Fort McMurray Food Bank Association – Candidate Questionnaire Mike Allen, Progressive Conservative Party 1. Several provinces have set in motion ambitious poverty reduction strategies. Does your party have a plan to address hunger and poverty in Alberta? The PC Party’s 2012 budget is built on “Investing in People” and in particular, assistance to vulnerable Albertans. A Progressive Conservative government is committed to strengthening supports for Albertans in their time of need. The Human Services Ministry was to bring all elements of social policy together under one ministry, which makes it possible to create a comprehensive model that will support our most vulnerable citizens. I am currently the vice chair of the Inter City Forum on Social Policy, a board made up of elected representatives and municipal FCSS managers across the province that meet to discuss social priorities in our communities and develop recommendations. Last year, we began an initiative on an “Action Plan to End Poverty in Alberta” ( http://www.actiontoendpovertyinalberta.org/ ). During the leadership race last summer, Alison Redford responded positively to requests of support for this plan and I’m very pleased to confirm that last week she followed through by announcing the Plan to Reduce Poverty. Our Plan for Poverty Reduction will focus on a 5‐year plan to eliminate child poverty and a 10‐year plan to reduce poverty. This is also a personal priority for me and I am committed to seeing it through to completion, regardless of the role I am serving in. 2. Welfare rates in Alberta are far below the poverty line. What will you do for people with disabilities and for people in general, living on social assistance? Increased support has been a major component of Budget 2012 that was recently passed:
$400 increase to maximum monthly income benefit for recipients of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) Program, effective April 1, 2012. Monthly income exemptions double. 46,000 Albertans with a permanent disability to benefit from financial and health‐related assistance through the AISH program. 9,600 adults with developmental disabilities to receive supports to encourage independence and community involvement. $148 million to help families with the cost of raising a child who has a disability.
3. What is your party’s platform on food security in Alberta? While I must admit I am not well versed on this matter, I am personally supportive of the Growing Food Security in Alberta initiative. I am not familiar with how it is identified in the current Agricultural business plan or land use framework but do
see value in always seeking new ways to develop and improve policy in this area for the safety and security of our critical food stocks. 4. What is your party’s platform on affordable housing in our region and in Alberta? Affordable housing is an initiative I am very familiar with. As a member of the Affordable Housing Task Force in 2007 and board member with Wood Buffalo Housing and Development Corp, I have been proud to work on initiatives that have supported thousands of families in Wood Buffalo’s unique and very challenging housing market. We will continue to provide the funding required to build additional units – to date has been approx. 1 unit per acre of new development. WBHDC now has over 1100 units with additional projects and new projects in development – I will continue to be a strong advocate for this program. Budget 2012 contains $300 million for housing programs including $216 million for the Social Housing Portfolio Revitalization and $80 million for affordable housing and the Homelessness Prevention Initiative. 5. If elected, what will your party do (or, what is your party doing to enable welfare recipients to enter the workforce successfully? Goal 3 of The Human Services Ministry states “ In collaboration with communities and stakeholders, the conditions and opportunities are created for Albertans to succeed “. Welfare recipients should have access to education and training opportunities to assist in successful transition into the workforce. In partnership with other ministries we are working with Alberta’s industry associations and employers to assist them in meeting their workforce requirements. 6. It has been commented that some parties may be planning to privatize social assistance and child welfare? is this something your party plans to do? The Progressive Conservative party is committed to providing support services to ALL Albertans with equal access. I am not aware of any plans to privatize any of our social programs. 7. If elected how do you and your party propose to assist nonprofits and charities to spend less time raising funds and more time doing the work their organizations were created to do? We believe in the importance of Alberta's vibrant non‐profit/voluntary sector ‐ actively supporting its work through targeted programs and capacity building initiatives that are focused on collaboration, and working in partnership with the
sector to strengthen Alberta's communities, raise awareness and recognition, and provide leadership training and development. Volunteers, directly and indirectly, touch the lives of almost every Albertan and are involved in virtually every aspect of community life. From sport and recreation to the arts and vital services to youth, families and our most vulnerable citizens, volunteers help to make possible programs and services valued at an estimated $9.6 billion per year. The diversity of our province is seen in those who make up the family of volunteers as citizens come together to achieve common goals. Stepping up to make a difference are the young and young at heart, Albertans born and raised and new Canadians who have chosen our province as their home. We offer facilitation and consultation services and are able to provide public participation and stakeholder consultation support to both the nonprofit/voluntary sector, as well as community organizations, networks and government. Financial support for community organizations, nonâ€?profit organizations and publicâ€?use facilities is delivered through a diverse range of programs and grants, including the Community Spirit Program, the Community Initiatives Program and the Community Facility Enhancement Program. Â