Minister of Human Services announces funding for FCSS, Alberta Works during stop in Bonnyville

A number of family services in Bonnyville will be expanding their scope after a cash injection from the provincial government.

Tuesday, Jun 28, 2016 06:00 am
Alberta Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir was in Bonnyville on June 24 to promote the new funding for several departments under his ministry. After meeting with Mayor Gene Sobolewski and Family and Community Support Centre (FCSS) Director David Beale, he announced the new funding at Bonnyville Town Hall.
“These grants are part of a government commitment to helping families and communities to fight against family violence,” said Sabir. “The grant will help the community here to come up with programs geared towards addressing the issue. Violence is unacceptable in any form, and we need to tackle it at many different levels.”
Among the new initiatives is a one-time grant of $77,000 for the FCSS Crisis Centre, which will cover the salary of a temporary employee who will be working around the area to help promote better ways to deal with domestic issues and help prevent family violence. The grants are part of a $3.5 million plan for municipalities around the province.
“Family violence is something we definitely need to address,” explained Beale. “I don’t think it’s any worse or better in Bonnyville than any other small town in Alberta, but it is a chronic problem that continues to exist. Public awareness is a key part of our strategy to combat it.”
In addition, the ministry increased the local FCSS’ annual funding by around $30,000, which prompted the Town of Bonnyville to pitch in an extra $6,000, as well as a $3,000 grant from the MD of Bonnyville. This has enabled the FCSS to hire a new employee for the crisis centre – an outreach office intended to help women escape domestic violence emergencies.
Beale noted that the crisis centre employee was hired in March. The new service will allow the centre to transport victims of domestic violence to the centre as well as to the women’s shelter in Cold Lake.
“We’re going to be doing a lot more in the area of family violence prevention, bullying prevention, elder abuse prevention, the whole gambit of family violence issues,” added Beale. “People should not live in fear.”
Aside from increased funding for the FCSS, Sabir also announced changes to the local Alberta Works centre.
The centre will be transformed into a full Alberta Support Centre, allowing people to access more government services.
“That is a work in progress. We need to provide services in a more collaborative fashion, so the Alberta Support Centre will become a one-stop shop where people are connected to a range of services depending on their needs,” explained Sabir. “It will be the face of human services where people can connect with over 120 different programs.”
He explained that part of the change will involve removing much of the bureaucratic red tape currently involved in accessing much of the ministry’s services.
“Programs should not exist in silos, people should be able to come in and be assessed once, and then they will be connected to the supports and services available through their government and community,” he added, noting the centre will also connect users to health care and other services outside of his ministry.
Beale noted that the funding would help the FCSS and crisis centre contend with a large backlog of issues.
“We’re very pleased and thank the minister for the funding,” praised Beale. “It’s been about eight or nine years since we’ve seen an increase in funding. What we’re doing right now is backpedaling some of the things we had to reduce in the past. So we’re looking at not cutting services as much as we were before.”
The Ministry of Human Services increased funding for FCSS from $75 million to $100 million as part of the province’s 2016 budget. The FCSS services are now available. The Alberta Support services are expected to come online later in the year.