MLA report May 21

Posted Under: Leela Aheer

Hello Chestermere/Strathmore. I hope you had a wonderful long weekend.  I had a lovely time with many of you out on the pathways, especially at the dog park where there is a great deal of entertainment to be had as our dogs enjoy each other’s company in the water, and in the off-leash area. 

I wanted to address some misinformation in the media about funding through the Ministry that I represent, the Ministry of Culture, Multiculturalism, and the Status of Women.  Normally, funding applications would be taken at this point for various programs that may run within the next year.  We have two funding streams under the Community Initiatives Program: the Project stream (for specific projects like a festival) and the Operating stream (for day to day operations supporting Albertans). Then COVID-19 hit. 

Essentially 1,200 non-profit organizations were directly impacted, and we began the work of speaking with as many organizations as we could to understand the impact, and how government could partner with them to help at this unprecedented time.  We spoke openly about what our concerns were, and also that COVID-19 had impacted other budgets as well with much need funding being redirected to the front lines and to supporting vulnerable Albertans in homeless shelters, seniors, mental health and addictions, and to the testing of Albertans to keep all of us safe. 

You-everyday Albertans, have done an amazing job and that is why we can start to reopen Alberta sooner than we had anticipated. Because of the restrictions of the Public Health Emergency, 85% of the applications under the Project stream could not have seen their projects move forward but non-profits were seeing a need for increased operating funding. We recognized that the money could be reallocated temporarily to help non-profits supporting our most vulnerable populations and who will be instrumental in putting our communities back together in our “NEW” normal.

Now more than ever, this is about all of us, in this together.  Organizations that did a ton of work writing and organizing their project applications will have the opportunity to reapply as we come out of COVID-19 but for now we have temporarily diverted 2 million in project funding to operations, and though some of the folks may be frustrated at this news, and I understand that, things are happening as a result of need, and hopefully those organizations that wanted to do projects will reapply when the public health emergency is lifted. No one will be a happier than me to work with these incredible organizations.  We live within the world of pandemic, and now we have to come out of our houses, regain our lives, and not allow fear to be the ruling emotion of our lives.  For some of you, this can not happen fast enough.  The reallocation of funding is temporary to provide direct services and programs that address our vulnerable populations, the disadvantaged and at-risk individuals. 

As we move forward, we will see what the future brings, and we will be there to partner with organizations as we come out of the pandemic.  A total of 8 million will be redirected to the organizations that are working directly with vulnerable populations as that is where the need is greatest.  I have heard that organizations feel they have wasted their time working on their applications and I appreciate their concerns. When things return to normal they will be able to reapply. 

In the meantime, lets focus on the safety and well being of our population, work together, and see what we can accomplish together.

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