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The original item was published from 6/2/2022 3:55:22 PM to 6/2/2022 3:58:29 PM.

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City News & Information

Posted on: June 2, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Advocating for Shelter Services

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Advocating for Shelter Services: What You Need to Know

If you are concerned about the well-being of those experiencing homelessness within our community, you’re not alone. This post is intended to provide insight on who to speak to within the different orders of government to effectively share your concerns. 

The City of Wetaskiwin remains committed to working as a stakeholder with the Provincial and Federal governments in providing emergency shelter to those experiencing homelessness. Over the past three years, city council has tirelessly advocated for supports and services to assist those experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable members of the community (those experiencing addiction, mental health issues, etc.).

Advocating the other orders of governments for these community supports is one of council’s roles. Providing the funding for them is not. As outlined by the Parliament of Canada’s website, the following are listed as responsibilities of each order of government (as outlined in the Constitution Act):

  • Federal government
    This order of government deals with areas of law listed in the Constitution Act that generally affect the whole country. These include national defence, foreign affairs, Indigenous lands and rights, employment insurance, banking, federal taxes, the post office, shipping, railways, telephones and pipelines, fisheries, and criminal law.
  • Provincial government
    In each of the 10 provinces, the provincial government is responsible for areas such as education, health care, housing (in coordination with the other orders of government), some natural resources, and road regulations. They sometimes share responsibility for these with the federal government—such as policies, programs, and legislation in the fields of mental health, mental illness, and addictions.
  • Municipal government
    Municipal governments are responsible for areas such as libraries, parks, community water systems, local police, roadways, and parking. They receive authority for these areas from the provincial governments.

The Wetaskiwin Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) surplus—recently mentioned by Hon. Jason Luan, provincial minister of Community and Social Services, as being available to fund Wetaskiwin’s emergency shelter—is mandated to be spent on preventative programming as per the Family and Community Support Services Act. In 2021, however, the FCSS regulation was amended to include the following:
(3) Services provided under a program may offer direct assistance including money, food, clothing or shelter to sustain an individual or family during a public health emergency under the Public Health Act or any extenuating circumstances such as fire or flood as the Minister may determine.

This amendment certainly makes it possible—provided Ministerial permission is received—to use FCSS dollars to help fund the shelter. However, the surplus money available would only cover shelter operations for approximately two-and-a-half months (as evidenced by the province spending $850,000 to operate the shelter for six months), and Wetaskiwinites cannot afford the estimated $1.7 million annual cost to operate an emergency shelter.

Due to the significant expenses involved, the downloading of financial responsibility onto municipalities for the provision of shelter services almost guarantees a disruption of this much-needed service. This is not only harmful to those seeking emergency shelter, but also leaves communities like Wetaskiwin between a rock and a hard place. Municipalities rely on the collection of property taxes to fund local programs and services within the purview of municipal government. If no funding is forthcoming from the governments responsible for the services needed, the municipality and community-based organizations are left to try to address this gap in service using limited municipal funds and resources. 

Who You Can Speak With

If you’re concerned about the gaps in the provision of supports/services related to addictions, mental health, or homelessness, it’s important to reach out to our constituency's provincial and federal elected representatives. Adding your voice(s) to those who have expressed a need for these supports allows our dedicated representatives to hear your concerns first-hand.

The federal representative for Wetaskiwin is:

Mike Lake
Member of Parliament (MP) for Edmonton-Wetaskiwin


Email: mike.lake@parl.gc.ca
Website: http://mikelake.ca
Facebook: facebook.com/MikeLakeMP
Twitter: @MikeLakeMP

Parliament Hill Office
House of Commons               
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1A 0A6
Ph: 1 (613) 995-8695

Constituency Office
Main Office - Edmonton
(#203) 1230 91 Street SW
Edmonton, Alberta, T6X 0P2
(Ph): 1 (780) 495-2149

 
The provincial representative for Wetaskiwin is:

Hon. Rick Wilson
Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin

Provincial Minister of Indigenous Relations

Email: Maskwacis.wetaskiwin@assembly.ab.ca
Website: https://www.assembly.ab.ca
Facebook: facebook.com/RickWilsonforAlberta
Twitter: @Richard4Alberta

Legislature Office
104 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Ph: 1 (780) 422-4144

Constituency Office
5019 - 50 Street
Wetaskiwin, AB T9A 1K1 
(Ph): 1 (780) 360-8003

 

If you would like to share any feedback or concerns you may have with services or programs that fall under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Wetaskiwin (libraries, parks, community water systems, roadways, the municipal budget, etc.), please contact any member of city council at one of the following emails:

Mayor Tyler Gandam: tyler.gandam@wetaskiwin.ca
Councillor Karen Aberle: karen.aberle@wetaskiwin.ca
Councillor Dean Billingsley: dean.billingsley@wetaskiwin.ca
Councillor Gabrielle Blatz: gabrielle.blatz@wetaskiwin.ca
Councillor Bill Elliot: bill.elliot@wetaskiwin.ca
Councillor Kevin Lonsdale: kevin.lonsdale@wetaskiwin.ca
Councillor Wayne Neilson: wayne.neilson@wetaskiwin.ca

If you’d like to speak with Wetaskiwin FCSS about preventative programming, please contact them at:

Ph: (877) 768-7656
Email: fcsswetaskiwin@gmail.com

Thank you to all those (individuals, agencies, organizations, orders of government, etc.) who have given of their time and resources to assist those experiencing homelessness within Wetaskiwin and area. The City continues to collaborate with local and regional partners/agencies who deliver services and supports to vulnerable humans in our community. City council has provided approval for an emergency shelter to operate in its current location until the end of June, and the City remains committed to working with the Mustard Seed and the Government of Alberta in the provision of this service.

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