Posted on Sep 17, 2020
JASON KENNEY MUST TELL DISABLED ALBERTANS WHICH OF THEM WILL LOSE AISH
CALGARY – After the shocking revelation from Jason Kenney that his UCP government is planning to eliminate some forms of disabilities from being eligible for the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program, NDP Leader Rachel Notley is calling on the Premier to make clear which disabilities he believes are undeserving of the income benefit.
“The Premier, who makes sixteen thousand dollars per month, thinks those living on sixteen hundred should learn to get by with less,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley.
A 2016 Auditor General report found that previously the AISH program was inaccessible, lacked consistency in the application and screening process, and required improvements to be more fair. During the NDP Government’s term, changes were made to the AISH eligibility to improve on the problems identified including new online resources, performance measures, and screening criteria.
“It’s unthinkable,” said Notley. “The Auditor General report was about ensuring fairness for Albertans with disabilities and now the Premier is openly speaking out against that.
“The whole notion of telling severely disabled people that they don’t deserve AISH while throwing money at rich CEOs and profitable corporations is inhumane. Jason Kenney needs to tell Albertans exactly who he’s talking about when he suggests some people don’t deserve money to buy food or pay rent. Why is the Premier so opposed to being fair to Albertans with disabilities?”
Neither the Premier nor the Minister have made a public announcement about their plans to cut supports for AISH recipients.
To date, the public has learned about the UCP’s plan through:
- A leak from a senior bureaucrat in the Department of Community and Social Services on Sept. 11;
- A Facebook post from Rajan Sawhney on Sept. 12; and
- A response from the Premier to an off-topic question at an environment announcement on Sept. 15
“People are scared, and they feel like they can’t trust this UCP government,” said Marie Renaud NDP Community and Social Services Critic. “We've heard from thousands who have serious questions and need answers that this government is refusing to give.”
Notley was joined by two AISH recipients deeply concerned about the impact that the proposal of the UCP to reduce or remove supports for AISH will have on Albertans with disabilities. Both noted that the shocking discovery of these plans have created fear, anxiety and even depression for members of the community.
“Reducing the number of clients on AISH, denying AISH clients health benefits, any other changes to that nature is like cutting a lifeline and letting people who can’t swim, to swim on their own,” said Mary Salvani, a Calgarian on AISH. “It is dangerous, deadly, and inhumane. It is even worse to do now during a pandemic when people need help the most.”
Kavin Sheikheldin, a Calgarian on AISH, “The UCP have said that they are looking at changing the qualification for the AISH program. This could mean that people with invisible disabilities who don't show any symptoms will no longer qualify for AISH. This isn't fair.”