Posted on Jul 20, 2021
UCP REMOVE SUPPORT FOR VULNERABLE YOUTH AT MOST VULNERABLE TIME
EDMONTON – An internal memo from the Ministry of Children’s Services shows that child intervention staff will be going into training tomorrow on how to remove about 500 youth from the Support and Financial Assistance Agreement program, less than 5 months after the Minister of Children’s Services made promises that no youth would be cut from the program.
“Throwing about 500 vulnerable young Albertans off of these supports will put them in real danger. Minister Schulz is removing their financial security as well as the emotional support they get from their caseworker,” said NDP Critic for Children's Services Rakhi Pancholi.
Currently Alberta has a youth unemployment rate of 18.1 per cent, the highest in the country.
“It’s extremely difficult for any young person to find work right now. Especially for someone who grew up with the kinds of challenges these young Albertans endured,” said Pancholi. “The hard truth is most of these young Albertans will not find work, and will fall into poverty. The Jason Kenney government is taking help away from them.”
The rate of death among youth aging out of care is rising sharply in the province. Between April 2020 and January of this year, 14 youth have died compared to 10 the year prior.
In a report from the OCYA last September, recommendations were made to the government to provide youth leaving Children’s Services’ care a clear outline of what supports and services they are entitled to receive before their SFA Agreement is terminated. No action was taken by the UCP on these recommendations.
The UCP’s attempt to reduce the age of eligibility from 24 to 22 was announced in 2019 and immediately challenged in court. The court issued an injunction preventing the UCP from moving forward with changes for almost a year. Ninety per cent of young people aging out of government care in Child Intervention access the SFAA program.
“If the Minister is serious about the mental health of young Albertans, she can start today by cancelling her plans to push hundreds of vulnerable youth into poverty,” said Pancholi.