Kenney says UCP reconsidering AISH qualification criteria

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is pictured at Fish Creek Park in Calgary during a press conference on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. Premier Kenney and Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon announced substantial support by Alberta taxpayers for provincial parks and public lands infrastructure that will create jobs across the province. Jim Wells/Postmedia

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“They would have gone through this extensive process to demonstrate the severity, complexity, and permanence of disability.”

Renaud said those receiving AISH benefits already struggle to make ends meet, as they receive a maximum of roughly $20,000 per year.

“There’s no breathing room,” she said.

In late 2019, the UCP government de-indexed AISH payments from inflation, meaning benefits would no longer increase with the rising cost of living. The UCP allocated $1.29 billion for AISH in its 2020 budget, tabled in February.

Kenney said it shouldn’t come as a surprise “that in the midst of the greatest fiscal crisis since the province went bankrupt in the 1930s that every department is looking at every possible way to achieve savings.”

“The truth is that we have, by far, the most generous benefits for social services of any province in Canada,” he said.

But Trish Bowman, CEO of Inclusion Alberta, said she’s concerned more Albertans will be driven into poverty if those with disabilities lose their AISH eligibility.

She questioned what the province’s review entailed and how the impacted community would be included in the process.

“Certainly during a pandemic, it seems to me that you’ve already got people who are incredibly stressed, who are dealing with all kinds of additional challenges. To have this looming certainly just adds to that,” said Bowman, whose organization advocates for Albertans with developmental disabilities.

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