Tags: Building Strong Communities , Investing in Alberta’s Future , Providing Leadership & Accountability , Supporting Families

Posted on Nov 6, 2019

AISH recipients speak out against UCP cuts to funding

Albertans with disabilities worry they won’t be able to afford rent and other necessities after learning of UCP Government’s cruel cuts to the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program. 

“While he was campaigning, Jason Kenney promised more than once he would not do this, but he did,” says Ian Young, an AISH recipient and advocate for persons with disabilities. “They made these decisions without consulting AISH recipients or the agencies that support us. We are living in fear of what they’ll do next.”

Under the previous NDP government, legislation was introduced to ensure AISH benefits rose with cost of living increases. The UCP budget freezes those benefits.

“Jason Kenney and the UCP lied when they promised not to cut funding for our most vulnerable,” said Rachel Notley, Leader of Alberta’s NDP Caucus.

“There is no clearer example of Kenney’s backwards priorities than the decision to give $4.7 billion away to wealthy corporations and to pay for part of that handout by cutting funding to people with disabilities.” 

MLA Marie Renaud, NDP Critic for Community and Social Services and MLA for St. Albert grilled Minister Sawnhey during estimates Wednesday morning about the cuts to AISH funding. The Minister refused to budge or consider undoing the harmful cut.

“When we were in government, I was proud to stand up for Albertans with disabilities and to ensure that they would never again have to fight to have their benefits keep up with the cost of living,” Renaud said. “Premier Kenney can use fancy language like ‘de-indexing’ to pretend this isn’t a cut to AISH, but that’s exactly what it is.”

Amy Park, an AISH recipient and member of the Self-Advocacy Federation, was among those calling on the UCP to undo its AISH cut at a press conference Wednesday.

“When the NDP indexed AISH to the cost-of-living I thought, finally, things will get better for the thousands of Albertans who rely on this program,” she said. “I thought, finally, people with disabilities wouldn't have to choose between paying the electric bill or eating dinner, or wonder if they could afford rent that month. 

“But my hopes, along with the livelihood of thousands of Albertans, were shot down by the UCP, by our Premier, who claims that this decision is not onerous. Since when is denying a group of people basic human rights not onerous?”