View Full Version : Vibrant Communities Edmonton & Edmonton Social Planning

08-05-2007, 03:06 PM
Vibrant Communities Edmonton

Alberta is booming! How are you coping?

Invitation to talk about what the booming economy has done for


· working full time and/or working part time (at least 20 hours per week) and;

· willing to share your story or experience about the job market in the “Hot Albertan Economy”


Then join us for a friendly and informal 2-hour discussion. Your participation and feedback will make a huge contribution towards finding out how people are facing the challenge to “make ends meet”.

We offer $50 for your time and participation.

We will meet in 5 separate sessions at the Business Link 10237 - 104 Street. Food and refreshments will be provided.

· Wednesday, May 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. (Free parking)

· Thursday, May 24, from 4 to 6 p.m.

· Saturday, May 26, from 9 to 11 a.m.

· Monday, May 28, from 7 to 9 p.m. (Free parking)

· Tuesday, May 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. (Parking free after 6 pm)

If you would like to attend, call or email Karina Hurtado at 428-1866, [email protected] with the day you prefer to attend, your name, phone number, mailing address and E-mail address. Thank you!


11-05-2007, 12:59 PM
I just got off the phone with [email protected] Vibrant Communities Edmonton and participants are needed for this discussion about what the booming economy has done for you.

They need to qualify the participants by income level. You qualify if your annual income is at or below the amounts in the table below.

Family Size Maximum Annual Income
1 Person with children 35,000
2 Persons with children 70,000
1 Person without children 30,000
2 Persons without children 60,000

If your income is above these amounts, please help us by passing this invitation along to anyone that you think might qualify.

BTW, yes, I have registered for the discussion!

29-05-2007, 09:54 PM
Vibrant Communities Edmonton in conjunction with Edmonton Social Planning held these forums and I was a participant tonight.

I will post some of my observations and thoughts when I get a chance as it was very illuminating, somewhat discouraging and yet filled me with hope...

18-07-2007, 02:51 PM
18 June 2007

Below is a link to the PDF from Vibrant Communities Edmonton and Edmonton Social Planning on the Summary Report findings from the Focus Groups they held.

As I was a participant I received a copy.

It is an interesting read and reaffirms my recollections from the Focus Group I was part of...

There are a lot things Edmonton needs to be aware of and must be taking action to change immediately.



18-07-2007, 03:52 PM
I can't access the file.

18-07-2007, 03:56 PM
I can't access the file.

I was afraid of that...I will pull the PDF apart and re post that way.

Thanks for letting me know!

Cheers, :D

18-07-2007, 03:58 PM
You can't view the pdf, cause you don't have access to djgirl's webmail .... lol

18-07-2007, 04:12 PM
You can't view the pdf, cause you don't have access to djgirl's webmail .... lol

^ Yeah, I sort of figured that out once I posted it. :lol: (I was born blonde is my only excuse today...).

18-07-2007, 11:20 PM

Report on the Findings from the Focus Groups with Edmontonians Living on Low Incomes

18 June 2007


Affordable housing has been in short supply in Edmonton for several years. More recently the strong economy has pushed house sales to a record high, and this has affected rental accommodation. In April-May 2007, rental housing began getting public attention as rates increased drastically, in some cases doubling, and the stock of rental properties dwindled as units were converted into condominiums. People on low and fixed incomes were hardest hit. Concerned about the impact the economy was having on these people generally, Vibrant Communities and the Edmonton Social Planning Council decided to hold a series of focus groups to learn about their experiences. Community Services Consulting Ltd. was contracted to facilitate the sessions. This report presents the consultant’s findings.

Six focus groups with people on low incomes were held between May 23 and 29, 2007.

Invitations to attend were sent out by Vibrant Communities Edmonton. A total of 75 people participated.

After introducing themselves, participants were asked to respond to two questions:

What are the top three aspects of your life that you are finding increasingly difficult to manage due to the impact of today’s economy?

Can you suggest strategies to improve the situation? You can direct your comments to government or another body as you wish.

The responses have been summarized under several themes, with quotations from participants provided in quotations. At the end of the focus group, participants were asked to fill out a brief survey providing general demographic information. That information is appended to this report.

Over 50% of my gross pay goes towards rent. I don’t know what that will cost in a year’s time. I was saving for my own house, but the amount I’ve saved doesn’t mean anything now.

My rent is pretty reasonable ($900 for one bedroom) but the landlord isn’t doing the upkeep. I’m scared to push too much in case they find some reason to kick me out.

I sleep on friends’ couches and shower in the Van Fleet Centre for $5 a month and have a locker there. It’s fairly common. Lots of people do it because housing’s so expensive.

Impact of the Economy

Housing. Finding affordable, decent or liveable, long-term rental housing was the most frequently cited concern of focus group participants. For others, the problem was simply being able to pay the rent.

Concerns included:
• Not being able to afford the deposit on a rental suite
• Being on a long wait list for subsidized housing
• Having to decide between paying the rent and making other purchases such as food or children’s school activities
• Feeling insecure due to social problems in the neighbourhood (drug use, etc.), but not being able to afford to move out
• Feeling intimidated by a landlord who doesn’t keep up the maintenance or makes a point of saying how much more he should be getting for the unit
• Possibly losing the dream of being able to buy a house in Edmonton, despite being employed and having savings
• As someone born, raised and educated in Edmonton, facing the possibility of having to move to a small town in order to afford to own a house and start a family
• As a couple, having difficulty managing a mortgage on a modest home
• Being homeless and having to sleep on friends’ couches while attending university
• Feeling powerless and trapped
• Being concerned that Alberta graduates will have to move to other provinces to make a decent living

Our rent has gone from $700 to $1200 a month.

I’m working just to live. I skimp on groceries so I can afford to do other things.

I have a university degree and a job, but I’m still barely able to make ends meet.

You can’t afford to go anywhere.

Just when you think you’re managing, something goes up. It’s impossible to save.

I live by myself, so I don’t have anyone to support me.

Cost of living increases.

All focus group participants expressed concern about the rising cost of day-to-day basic purchases such as food, transportation and utilities.

Everything seems to cost more, but wages are not rising in proportion, making it increasingly difficult to cope and impossible to save for the future.

Concerns included:

• Spending proportionally more on the cost of food [than was the case even a year ago]
• Buying the cheapest quality and having to count on sales and specials in order to afford food
• Not being able to afford to eat healthily
• Living from pay cheque to pay cheque and feeling stressed about not being able to save or cope with an emergency
• Working just to live, and not having anything left over for recreation, holidays and the like

Accessible and affordable transportation. Participants who depend on public transit find the fares expensive and, if their destinations are not on direct bus routes, they spend an inordinate amount of time travelling. The bus system is neither reliable nor practical for taking children to school or getting to work. Many participants said that the ETS was not keeping up with demand, and, as a result, buses were over-crowded and slow. Those people with vehicles were spending increasingly more on gas, insurance, parking and maintenance.

Concerns included:

• Not being able to afford the $59 for a bus pass
• Having to spend more time travelling
• Not being able to get to work if the car breaks down
• Not being able to get to places without a vehicle

We decided not to buy a car, but biking isn’t always feasible, like when the roads haven’t been ploughed.

The cost of daycare with a subsidy was $40 last September, but this September I’ll be paying $160 per child, because there was no increase in the subsidy.

I was paying $52 a month for daycare because I qualified for a full subsidy. Now I have a new job and am making extra money. The way the system works, because my son only attends after school, and I’m earning more, I don’t qualify for a subsidy, and have to pay $200 a month. That’s going up to $250.

The school told me they need $12 for a field trip next week, but I don’t get paid for two weeks. Plus, the school charges for supervision during lunch. It costs $17 a month. I have to work, so the kids can’t go home for lunch.

It’s scary because you don’t know who’s looking after your child or if they are qualified. Anybody could walk in and get a job. The standards of cleanliness and the activities are not monitored.

High quality, affordable childcare. All working parents with young children were concerned about the shortage of high quality, affordable childcare, but the shortage is particularly hard on families with more than one child or a child with special needs. In some cases, parents have to send their children to different daycares, which involves additional travel and coordination. Subsidies have not increased to reflect the cost of living, and the eligibility level is too low. Parents are also worried about the quality of staff, particularly in for-profit facilities where hiring less qualified workers is seen as a way of increasing the profit margin.

Concerns included:
• Having to pay $750 per month per child for daycare
• Having to send a child to a daycare he doesn’t like, because no other spaces are available
• Being on a wait list for the Y for two years
• Not qualifying for a subsidy or losing the subsidy when wages increase
• Having difficulty finding childcare when working nights or more than one job
• Living on a low income, but one that is not so low as to qualify for a subsidy

Cost of education. Participants expressed concern about the high costs of school and a post-secondary education. Parents do not want their children to miss out on opportunities at school, but have difficulty finding the money for things such as supplies, lunch supervision and extracurricular activities. University students and recent graduates described having to manage a debt load that is affecting their quality of life. Some parents fear they will not be able to afford a post-secondary education for their children.

I spend over $800 a month on prescriptions and insulin stuff. Testing your blood sugar level costs on average $100 a month, and the strips and blood sets are $100 as well. That’s not covered [under Alberta Healthcare]. There is some funding if you’re under a certain income level, but it’s very small and involves exclusions, so it’s not worth applying for. A lot of people don’t bother testing their blood because they can’t pay the cost, so they end up with complications.

I have an 11-year old who has no dental coverage. The dentist is so expensive, but I can’t let his teeth rot. How do you afford it?

School fees and school supplies are costly. For an elementary school child, they’re outrageous.

It’s a struggle to send my kids to science camp. I’m just above the eligibility line, so don’t qualify for anything [subsidies], but don’t make enough money to support myself as a single parent.

Concerns included:
• A growing trend by schools to expect parents to pay for non-academic services, such as supervision during lunch-hour
• Children being more at risk by missing out on school, sports and recreation opportunities because the costs are too high.
• Living from pay cheque to pay cheque to save for tuition and books
• Coming out of post-secondary and trying to make a future for oneself with a huge student loan

Healthcare and dental coverage. The cost of healthcare was of particular concern to participants who have to pay the premium themselves or cover needs that fall outside the plan. Similarly, those who without a dental plan found the cost of dental care exorbitant, but worried that not getting care could affect their health or their children’s. As with daycare, people are concerned that the income necessary to qualify for a subsidy is too low. Recent arrivals to the city are having difficulty finding a doctor who will take new patients.

Concerns included:
• Having to pay healthcare premiums and all other costs when unemployed
• Having to pay for special medication or procedures not covered under the plan
• Living on a low income, but one that is not so low as to qualify for a subsidy

I’m in a situation where I wish I was making less and being taxed less.

We’re feeling unsettled in our careers and our jobs because we have no job security and don’t make enough to get married or start a family. So we feel blocked by external factors that we have no control over.

The more money I make, the more people have their hands in my pocket.

I struggle to make a living and work all the time, so I never take a holiday or go to the doctor. I just work.

Finding well-paid, secure employment with benefits and opportunities for growth.

Many participants had concerns about their current job or employment prospects. They are working for minimum wage, in casual positions without benefits, or in positions below their qualifications, which was more often true of new immigrants or refugees. Some appear to be “locked in”, afraid to ask for a raise or take a promotion for fear of losing their subsidies and being no further ahead. Others described working overtime, only to have the extra money eaten up in deductions such as taxes. People without benefits have concerns about health, dental and eye care costs and saving for retirement.

Concerns included:
• Struggling to get ahead or not being able to manage on a minimum or low wage
• Not being able to ask for a raise for fear of losing a housing subsidy
• Not being able to find a job despite having a post-secondary qualification such as a teaching certificate
• Not having enough experience to get a decent job
• Being considered overqualified after upgrading an education
• Feeling burned out from having to work long hours as a casual employee with no benefits
• As an immigrant, having to go through an lengthy process to qualify as a professional in order to work


18-07-2007, 11:29 PM
Not having enough time. Participants described their lives as involving work or study and travel to and from work, leaving them little time for families or relaxation. Some have two jobs, some are working long hours, and others are working while studying.

Many spend hours on public transit getting to and from work or other places.

Concerns included:
• Trying to manage time, because everything seems to take longer (due to increased population and traffic and poorer service).
• Finding free time with family between working and studying
• Spending more time working and less on things like volunteering.

I may be able to find a job if I agree to lower my standards, but I won’t do that.

Issues for new immigrants and refugees. Newcomers to Canada shared the same concerns as other participants in the focus groups. However, they also ran up against attitudes or problems that affected their ability to support themselves or participate fully in Canadian society.

Concerns included:
• Taking second place to temporary workers being brought in from other countries to fill the labour shortage
• As a qualified professional, having to go through a drawn out and often difficult process to receive Alberta accreditation
• Not being able to find a job without speaking English and not being able to support a family without a job.
• Facing discrimination by employers and landlords
• Being forced to take a low-skill, low-paying job, despite being highly trained and skilled
• Having to wait too long to bring in sponsored spouses and family
• Not getting assistance with the sponsorship process and finding immigration lawyers to expensive
• Not knowing how to go about finding housing and negotiating a rate as prices rise

Suggestions for Improvements

• Legislate rent control. [Note: Rent control was frequently suggested as a solution, but not all participants were in favour of it.]
• Rather than rent controls, introduce a process where the appropriate ministry can look at various scenarios or exceptions to the rule, such as cases where rent was raised a $1000 a month.
• Encourage co-op alternatives for housing and food distribution to eliminate the middleman and bring prices down closer to cost (i.e., make it a city initiative)
o Help existing businesses to form co-operatives, which would reduce red tape.
o Promote and assist co-operative initiatives, such as community gardens.

Publish a list of co-op gardens where people can get involved.

• Increase the number of affordable housing units as a way to help reduce homelessness.
• Make it easier for people on low incomes to buy homes.
• Raise housing subsidies and increase the number of subsidized units to keep up with market costs.
• Expand existing housing subsidies and programs to meet the growing need and make the system more efficient, so that support is going to the people who need it.
• Look to other models, like Hong Kong, where services are centralized and housing in the centre is affordable so people don’t have to commute long distances. This involves building upward instead of sprawling outward.
o Introduce higher density housing, or row housing, particularly downtown. That would address other issues such as transportation and greenhouse emissions.

Improve neighbourhood planning.

• Use zoning or incentives to pressure property companies to build rental property or ensure that a portion of new housing is designated as affordable.
o Amend the planning regulations so that all new condominium developments have a block of affordable housing.
o Offer low interest loans to developers who will build rental units and make it profitable for owners to rent.

Not-for-profit day cares have higher quality of care – in terms of staff, toys, food and activities – because everything they make goes back into employees and the daycare.

Cost of living

• Control costs such as gas and utilities.
• Educate young people not to be swayed by the media or peer pressure when shopping and to consider alternatives (e.g., use of charity shops, purchase of no name sneakers).
• Repurchase the public utilities.
• Bring back the utility rebate cheque for Albertans.
• Eliminate bank fees.
• Lower the cost of gasoline.
• Take steps to control inflation.
• Subsidize the organic food industry.
• Use incentives to make farming a viable income generator. Most farmers have to work a second job off the farm.
• Protect existing farmland that is at risk of being developed.


• Encourage a green economy, such as the use of public transit, purchase of alternative fuel-driven cars.
• Subsidize transit and make the system more effective. The system is currently set up for a small centre.
o Lower the rates to encourage people to use public transportation as one step towards addressing global warming.
o Offer weekly passes as well as monthly.
• Expand the public transit system and increase the frequency of service of buses and the LRT, especially on weekends.


• Consider children as an investment.
o Make child care free for parents who need to work.
o Look at models like Quebec’s which provides universal day care for a nominal fee.
o Raise the subsidy level for daycare and lower the qualifying level.

We were denied subsidized coverage because we were $14 over the eligible limit.

We’re stuck in the middle with too high an income to qualify for a daycare subsidy.

o Infuse funding into the daycare system by paying childcare workers more money to encourage more people to get training.
o Increase the after-school care subsidy.
• Offer an incentive to not-for-profit daycares to encourage more to open.
• Make employers more responsible for providing daycare.
o Encourage companies to sponsor daycares as a way to help employees and improve retention, etc.

o Ask: What have you done for your employees?


• Put a freeze on tuition and roll back tuition.
• Offer more scholarships, bursaries and subsidies for post-secondary students
• Be more forgiving of debt as one way or improving the repayment schedule, and take other steps to lessen the burden of student loans.
• Adjust education grants and benefits to reflect cost of living increases.
• Change the student loan eligibility criteria so that a spouse’s income does not have so much weight.

Healthcare and dental

• Make healthcare free, just as it is in other provinces.
• Extend the healthcare plan.
o Make dental care part of health care, because dental problems can have an impact on health.
o Include eye care.
• Review the subsidies for people on a low income.
o Look at individual circumstances and consider exceptions, for example where someone is just over the qualifying line.
o Ensure the qualifying income level keeps up with inflation.
• Introduce incentives to bring more doctors into Alberta. People are going without healthcare due to the shortage.

Employment and wages

• Raise the minimum wage. It’s the lowest in the country.

The government should look first at who is unemployed before approving temporary worker visas. My husband is a qualified technician but he couldn’t find work in his field.

Canada’s overseas advertising presently misleads potential immigrants. People who come here expecting to work in their professions often end up in menial jobs because they don’t qualify for certification or don’t have Canadian experience.

• Consider the concept of “family wage” where a person is able to make enough to support a family.
• Improve the labour laws to give more people job security. People can work for a company for years and then be laid off.
• Make it mandatory for employers to give yearly salary increase.
• Change the AISH regulations to allow people to make more money without being penalized. As it is now, they will not bother to work. If the non-deductible amount was raised to $700 a month, people who were able to work would.

New immigrants and refugees

• Give incentives for employers to hire and invest in people here rather than bringing in temporary workers.
• Make it more expensive for companies to bring in temporary workers.
• Provide accurate, realistic information about job requirements to people planning to immigrate to Canada, so they know beforehand whether they will qualify to work in their field.
• Speed up the professional certifying process for immigrants. Make it possible for people in professions to take qualifying examinations outside Canada, so they are ready to work as soon as they arrive.
• Recognize that support for housing and employment is needed as soon as a newcomer reaches Canada and must be provided by government or the sponsor.
• Offer rent subsidies to help new immigrants to establish themselves, especially for the first months after they arrive.
• Investigate employers and enforce labour laws on those that take advantage of refugees.

General suggestions

Economic growth

• Slow down the boom. We’re going too far too fast and not reaping the benefits.
o Impose taxes on oil and other industries to slow things down.

Consider how to help families with children living on $18,000.

Recreation for my child (with a disability) is a huge time and money issue. Activities are important for his development, but we can’t afford them. We always have to say, if you go this week, you can’t go the next.

o Raise interest rates as a way to provide a balance and slow down the economy.
• Reassess how money is being spent and focus more on the “little guy” than on corporations and businesses.
• Ensure that cities receive a greater share of the income tax base or have more power to raise taxes.

Programs and subsidies in general

• Reinvest in society – in social programming, health care, day care, infrastructure and retraining.
• Invest in children’s recreation, sports and community programs and daycare to help keep them safe, away from violence and drugs.
• Lower the qualifying level for all benefits to help those people living on the poverty line.
• Provide counselling services for people on low incomes.
• Take a more individualized approach to all subsidies.
• Raise subsidy levels to match cost of living increases.
• Increase the benefits and supports provided for children with disabilities because the current rate is too low.
• Take preventative action by offering programs or support before everyone gets pushed into a crisis.
• Revise the regulations to allow people to work while continuing to receive benefits.
• Recognize that people need government assistance while going to school or working part-time. It shouldn’t be one thing or the other.

Knowledge exchange

• Help individuals and communities to create an atmosphere where we can ask for assistance and lean on each other.
• Encourage everyone to think differently as a way to finding collective solutions.
• Unify and centralize the service directories to make services more accessible to low income earners.
• Offer a newsletter or online service where people who need help can get it all in one
• Ensure that single mothers have what they need to find accommodation and information on subsidies.
• Create more places with access to the Internet or networking opportunities to help people find the information they need (such as business links). But make sure the sources and data are coordinated (i.e., on a single website).
• Encourage communication between high-level officials and low-income groups. For example, if someone has a suggestion for improving housing, it should be easy to convey to those who can act on it.
• Hold more community discussions to get ideas onto the table.


14-08-2007, 03:32 PM
Dakine wrote:

I can't really blame them i wouldn't want to work 3 jobs at minimum wage either. Its not like they can ever afford to buy a home or afford to go to school. most will be stuck with renting and they will barely pay the bills slipping farther and farther into debt working for the man going no place dong what they d not want to do. some dont want that resposibility It can be stressfull.. If i was not in the position to only work 4-6 months a year i would probly be living wild and free like the bums too. just my 2 cents.

feepa wrote:

Let me know who has to work minimum wage these days. I'd sure like to know how they can keep employees while mcdonalds is having trouble keeping employees at $ 10-12 /hr...

djgirl wrote:

What is minimum wage in Alberta?

feepa wrote:

I think we are going up to, if not already @ 8/hr... though the actual mininum must be 10...

no one hires for 8 any more do they?

Dakine wrote:

well in your best case scenario at 12 buck an hour at 40 hours times 4 weeks in a month... hmm about $1920 before taxes. never worked for that low but from what i pay in taxes i figure they maybe walk away with $1500 a month.

ok rent is rouphly $800, utilities another 100, $40 for the phone, i eat atleast $400 a month in food and thats living cheap. i dont take the bus but i am thinking thats another $60 not counting if u drive, $120 for healthcare. I think thats $1500 right there. now there may be other things to look at, maybe you have kids, there are school supply's, medications funeral expenses, entertainment, pet liscense, daycare etc.......what about retirement everyone should be put atleast $100 a cheaque, you think they can afford this

now please tell me how these people are suposeto live on that kind of money. i sure cant.

djgirl wrote:

^You are making some very valid points...however this thread is going way off topic.

I suggest this discussion move to this thread which is more on topic.

14-08-2007, 03:34 PM
feepa wrote:

Your estimates of wages/month after taxes seem reasonable
Well, I could find rent for 450-700 still in this city (I've recently looked for a friend). Certainly wont be in the better areas of this city...

60 bucks for the bus (yes, and at the end of the year, you can now get (some) of that money back). Below 30,000 / yr, you get your health care subsidized, so your out there... your other quotations for expenses seem reasonable as well...

But yes, its still a tight squeeze. Sucks a lot. But we all make choices

But no one is forcing these people to work at these rates anyways. Certainly one can get a student loan and try to go back to school. (I've done this...).

^ Good for you, however not everyone can get a student loan.

Despite all the talk of "life-long" learning by all levels of government, that was not my experience at all. I received a whole lot of sympathy for my "plight" and the bureaucratic buck-passing I endured but very little financial assistance other than scholarships and awards.

14-08-2007, 05:44 PM
they dont want people to get ahead they want to trap you and keep you broke so that your forced to work, in turn they can make more money off you. they learned from the baby boomers you cannot let people get ahead or they will retire and withdrawl from the work force, they lose money.

funny how Ralph klein, soon as the problems started to arise he bails, he washes his hands. for such a rich place isn't it so funny how the rich got richer and the poor got poorer and the middle class gets pushed out. you cannot tell me they did not forsee this happening, they knew very well what they were doing and now they play dumb. They create a demand for housing and jobs so the cost of living goes up meanwhile keeping your wages the same so you fall behind.

any resposible form of government would have put limits on oil and gas, they would have allowed other industries to stay competetive, realy who can compete with big oil?

maybe i am blind but does anyone know what there long term objectives were? besides playing dumb. and how we are all supose to benifit from all this.

15-08-2007, 08:15 AM
^ Good for you, however not everyone can get a student loan.

Despite all the talk of "life-long" learning by all levels of government, that was not my experience at all. I received a whole lot of sympathy for my "plight" and the bureaucratic buck-passing I endured but very little financial assistance other than scholarships and awards.

No but scholarships, bursaries and awards are a highly over-looked option. There are tons of scholarships, bursaries, and awards that no one applies for on an annual basis. That's hundreds of thousands of dollars available to everyone and yes, in some cases a select few. Money is available from groups in the area you live/grew up, went to school, were a member of growing up (think 4-H, Girl Guides/Boy Scouts), for your parents being Farmers or working for a certain company, for any family member being a stone mason, etc. Of course some of these have some really strict guidelines and require some work, papers, applications, people to vouch for you, and others require only a quick easy application to be filled out.

It really makes me sad to hear people say they can't go to school because they can't get a student loan when there are a ton of other options out there.

15-08-2007, 09:33 AM
Sorry Casa but there is no way the average person can rely on grants etc if they cannot get student loans. First, most of the grants/bursaries are awarded after the school year begins. So you would have to enrol and hope you get the money to cover your tuition. Second, please show me where these grants are that will supposedly cover the costs of tuition etc. Most of the ones I see are for $500-1000. There are very few that amount to enough to cover tuition nevermind living expenses.

29-08-2007, 11:12 PM
Social service groups desperate for money
Can't keep workers in overheated economy, agencies say

Archie McLean, edmontonjournal.com
Published:*August 2007 4:36 pm

Alberta's social services agencies say they are facing a worsening crisis because of their inability to find and retain staff in an overheated economy.

"The situation is acute and desperate," said Bob Greig, the president of the Alberta Association of Disability Services. "It will only be a matter of time before a serious incident occurs."

Greig, along with representatives from other social service umbrella groups, launched a campaign today to raise government and public awareness of their plight. They say they need an immediate infusion of cash from the province to help give their staff decent wages and benefits.

Jody Korchinski, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Children's Services, said the government is listening to the group's concerns. She pointed to a recent 3.5-per-cent increase in funding for women's shelters and sexual assault centres, which brings their total budget to $22 million.

The province has also given money to child-care groups to help top up low wages.

The money is nice, the groups say, but it's not nearly enough. Over the past few years, their capacity has been stretched to the limit and the demand for their services has been booming. Jan Reimer, the provincial co-ordinator for the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters, said her budget could easily be doubled.

"It's time for the province to resolve decades of offloading, which has created untenable salaries, insufficient capacities and improvised salaries."

[email protected]


31-10-2007, 09:29 PM
Rich get richer - planning council

Duncan Thorne, edmontonjournal.com
Published: October 31, 2006 7:11 pm

Article Link:

Edmonton's economic boom is making the rich richer, but most households are barely better off than in 1981, says the Edmonton Social Planning Council.

In making the comparison today, the council reached back to the peak year of the last big oil boom, rather than to the leaner intervening years.

It makes sense to compare "apples-to-apples" boom years, council researcher John Kolkman said as the non-profit agency called for more than $1 billion in tax breaks and increased spending for low-income Albertans.

The council released a report, Standing Still in a Booming Economy, that indicates household inflation-adjusted earnings in the Edmonton census metro area were virtually the same in 1981 and in 2005 - the latest year where such information is available.

Using Statistics Canada figures, Kolkman said the median earnings level - the point where half of income earners make more and half earn less - stood at slightly more than $32,000 in 1981, and only $300 above that in 2005. He adjusted 1981 earnings to equate them to the dollar's 2005 buying power.

Median earnings were lower in all intervening years - and as much as $7,500 lower in 1995.

Kolkman said the "standing still" in his report's title means Edmontonians were in 2005 doing as well, overall, as at the peak of the last boom. He added that the local economy is twice as large, per capita, as about 25 years ago - meaning most earnings gains since then have gone to business rather than to individuals.

Even so, in inflation-adjusted terms an increasing proportion of Edmonton-area families are making $100,000 or more, the Statistics Canada numbers show. Back in 1981, about 27 per cent of families were making at least that amount, in 2005 dollars. As of 2005, more than 30 per cent were in that earnings range.

About 55 per cent of families in 1981 were earning between $40,000 and $100,000 in inflation-adjusted 2005 dollars. The middle-income range accounted for just 43 per cent of families by 2005.

About 18 per cent of families earned less than $40,000 in 1981, using the same inflation-adjusted dollars. Families in that lower-income range peaked at about 38 per cent in 1995. As of 2005, they accounted for 27 per cent.

"A greater percentage of families are doing better," Kolkman said. Even so, he said some families that were once middle income have since lost ground.

Susan Morrissey, council executive director, said those lower-income people shouldn't be forgotten. "We have people who are homeless, we have people who are working two and three jobs that are really having difficulty making ends meet."

The council proposes a series of relief measures, the biggest one being an end to health care premiums which amount to $1,056 a year for families and $528 for single earners. Kolkman said the premiums, worth about $900 million to the government, have a bigger impact on middle- and lower-income earners than on people who are better off.

Shannon Haggarty, speaking for Alberta Health, said the premiums cover only about 10 per cent of health care spending, but send an important message that there is a cost to the service. She said lower-income Albertans pay lower premiums or, depending on income, are exempted outright.

The government has no plans to end premiums, Haggarty added.

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© Edmonton Journal 2007

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