Inclusion Alberta COVID-19 updates

March 19, 2020

Information last updated: March 19, 2020

For the newest updates, please see our COVID-19 page.

As personal isolation and “social distancing” reduce opportunities for Albertans to get together in person, go to work and school, and maintain their daily routines we hope you, your family and friends, have the support and resources required to stay safe, healthy and comfortable. This is also a good time to think about those in our communities who may need some extra help with daily tasks, or even a friendly phone call or message.

If you are experiencing more than minor routine disruptions during COVID-19 precautions, including unnecessary changes to any funding or supports, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at our main office in Edmonton. You can contact us by phone, 780-451-3055 or toll-free 1-800-252-7556, or email, mail@inclusionalberta.org.

Resources and Information

For the latest details on COVID-19 in Alberta, please visit the provincial government’s dedicated web page, which is being regularly updated with health and other information: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx

The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)has created a list of resources and information which will be helpful to those with developmental disabilities and their families. This can be found at the CACL’s website: https://cacl.ca/coviddisability/

The Green Mountain Self-Advocates have developed a plain language booklet for self-advocates, families, and their support staff, which we have updated to include Alberta information, such as calling Healthlink at 8-1-1. You can read or download that PDF from here on our website.

People First of Canada have also developed a plain language information sheet for self-advocates, based on Public Health Canada’s recommendations. That PDF is also available through our website.

Our inclusive education consultants have also produced a list of resources which may be of interest and help for parents at home with students in K-12 age groups. This PDF is viewable online or can be downloaded.

Government Assistance

The governments of Alberta and Canada continue to announce assistance for people who are self-isolating or medically unable to work during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Government of Alberta has announced a program to provide temporary financial support to adult Albertans who cannot go to work because they meet the provincial government’s criteria for self-isolation. This program also includes people who are the sole caregiver for a dependent who must self-isolate because they meet the public health criteria, and who will not have another source of pay or compensation while they are self-isolated. The money should be available the week of March 23, to help Albertans make ends meet until federal supports start on April 1. An online application will be made available on alberta.ca.

Albertans can also defer their electricity and natural gas utility payments for residential, farm and small commercial customers for 90 days. Nobody can have their service cut off during this time. You may need to contact your utility provider.

There will be a six-month, interest-free hold on all student loan payments. And ATB Financial and Alberta credit unions are offering deferrals on loans and mortgages to customers affected by COVID-19.

For more information on what will be made available to Albertans, please visit the provincial government’s website: https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-supports-for-albertans.aspx

The Government of Canada has announced changes to Employment Insurance (EI) and other temporary measures during the virus outbreak. Visit their website for more details, or to apply for assistance: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html

As these measures are announced, we are asking the Government of Alberta to do all that it can for individuals with developmental disabilities, their families, and others who may be part of their support network. This includes working with the people and communities who need and depend on such services and funding.

We are asking that the Alberta government ease the access to EI and/or implement other financial measures when employment is lost or at risk, and to ensure rapid AISH reinstatement is in place for any eligible individual who loses their employment during this time.

You can read more in our letter to the Minister of Community and Social Services, which is posted to our website and also available as a PDF.

We have also written to the Premier of Alberta to request not only that similar employment assistance be extended to individuals with developmental disabilities and those who care for them, but that additional resources and flexibility be made available as may be deemed necessary by families and advocates. This is particularly important in areas of education, personal care, support staff and existing and requested funding through programs including PDD and FSCD.

You can read our full letter posted in our news section, or read it as a PDF.

Inclusion Alberta during COVID-19

We are adapting our operations to best serve individuals with developmental disabilities, their families and our staff during this public health emergency.

Beginning Thursday, March 19, our main office in Edmonton is closed to the public. As of Tuesday, March 17, our Calgary office was completely closed due to the local state of emergency in that city. Staff members in both cities continue to work remotely and you can connect with them by phone or email.

We are asking all staff members across Alberta to limit external meetings at this time, and utilize video and phone conferencing and email wherever possible. Staff exhibiting cold and flu-like symptoms, or living with someone experiencing the same, will be working from home only.

Staff working at other locations around the province, including at post-secondary institutions, may not be on-site according to their usual schedules. Please call ahead or check with the staff member you’ve been in contact with to confirm if they are available to meet, and where, and the best way to connect with them. We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause.

Inclusion Alberta office availability may change but we remain committed to those individuals with developmental disabilities and families who need us.

Family Conference

As per Alberta Health Services direction to limit gatherings of large groups, we are cancelling this year’s Family Conference.

If you are a registered Family Conference 2020 participant, we would like you to know that you will receive a full refund. We will be providing refunds through our PayPal account, and we ask that registrants please watch for an email confirmation of the refund to their payment card.

If you paid by cheque or other arrangements, we will be working to issue you a refund as quickly as possible.

If you have made hotel reservations, please contact the hotel directly to cancel your reservation.

We appreciate your patience during this process. We’ve never had to cancel an event of this magnitude before and we will do everything we can to respond as soon as humanly possible.

If you have any questions about refunds, you can contact us by phone, 780-451-3055 or toll-free 1-800-252-7556, or email, mail@inclusionalberta.org.