Posted on Apr 26, 2020


EDMONTON - News today of two positive COVID-19 cases at the Calgary Drop-In Centre raise concerns about how those experiencing homelessness are being protected from the deadly virus. 

“I raised this issue weeks ago and it was completely brushed off by Minister Sawney,” said MLA Marie Renaud, NDP Opposition Critic for Community and Social Services. “People who live rough or who experience homelessness are at higher risk of catching COVID-19 and they have no ability to self-isolate, the UCP should have made plans much sooner to protect them and provide adequate housing during this pandemic.”

According to IGH Hub’s 7 Cities on Housing and Homelessness 2018 report, there were 5,735 people counted as experiencing homelessness during a point-in-time count. At the time, the majority were in Calgary. Despite the staggering number of people in need of housing, Minister Sawney announced housing solutions for only 400 people.

Minister Sawney also announced a partial exemption for Albertans collecting AISH and Income Support who are eligible to collect the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The exemption will prevent the Government of Alberta from clawing-back portions of the federal benefit.

“Like hundreds of thousands of Albertans, disabled Albertans and those collecting Income Support have also lost work or had their hours cut,” Said Renaud. “I asked Minister Sawney to make this exemption over three weeks ago. I’m disappointed it took her so long to do the right thing.”

MLA Renaud raised the question in the legislature on March 31, Minister Sawhney’s response was:  “...the emergency isolation program is designed for those individuals who have no other source of income. AISH and income support recipients do receive a core benefit. In addition to that, they have access to a plethora of supplementary benefits. We are taking care of vulnerable Albertans and will continue to take care of vulnerable Albertans. That is a very clear, clear answer.”