By Erika Mathieu
Westwind Weekly News
The UCP has announced new initiatives and funding streams in response to the ongoing affordability crisis.
Following a series of announcements in recent weeks, including a $20 million commitment to organizations which address food insecurity, the re-indexation of AISH, and cash instalments for families (with children) bringing in up to $180,000. However, these income supports are not accessible for single people without children bringing in less than $35,000, or couples without children living on a combined $50,000 household income.
The $2.4 billion affordability package includes a commitment by the UCP for $10 million in guaranteed funding to food banks and other non-profits to address the challenges of food insecurity.
“We are investing $20 million over the next two years into addressing food security issues,” said Jeremy Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Service during a press engagement last week. The Province committed to distributing a guaranteed $10 million to food banks over the next two years “and $5 million will be put out in a matching program,” said Nixon.
Nixon said discussions surrounding the ongoing affordability crisis triggered the announcement. “We’ve heard from food banks in my recent weeks (since) being appointed minister about the growing challenges that they’re facing,” and said a decline in volunteerism/donations and the spike in demand were factors.
In terms of how these supports will reach food banks, Nixon said, “we’re working with Alberta Food Banks (AFB) and our local FCSS to help with the distribution of these funds.” Alberta Food Banks, a provincial association of food banks in the province, is not inclusive of all community organizations supporting food security. Coaldale’s local food bank, for example, is not a member of the AFB.
While the exact breakdown of how funds will be distributed is not yet available, Nixon said the initiative is intended to provide support to other kinds of organizations addressing food insecurity.
“We want to make sure we’re actually broadening this beyond just traditional food banks because we know there’s a lot of non-profits who also do a lot of great work and addressing food security, and have (a) more intimate knowledge of the need within their communities,” and noted community partners will play a role in determining how funds will have “the maximum effect,” once distributed.
Nixon added, “this is going to be opened up right across the province and we’re going to be working through our partners to help, get funds out to the organizations who need it.” Minister Nixon cited a 73 per cent increase in demand at food banks since 2019 and said the affordability crisis has caused significant demand increases on organizations providing emergency food support.