Public input into social policy sought

The province is developing a framework that will guide its future social policies and programs to support those who are vulnerable.

The province is developing a framework that will guide its future social policies and programs to support those who are vulnerable.

And the province wants to hear from Albertans.

On Monday, a public discussion (called Speak. Share. Thrive.) was held in Red Deer to find out what role social supports can have in creating a stronger province.

The province does not have a social policy framework for its new Alberta Human Services Department, which includes several departments — Child and Family, Employment, Homeless Supports, Immigration, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), and Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD).

Albertans can help.

“We need to start off big, with a vision, because we really don’t have anything right now,” said Lora Pillipow, Alberta Human Services executive director, who attended the discussion at the Hub on Monday afternoon on behalf of the province.

About 25 people from numerous agencies and groups attended Monday’s discussion. The framework will provide a common understanding of what we’re going to achieve together, she said.

The Red Deer event was hosted by the Council of Canadians, Central Alberta Refugee Effort and the Central Alberta Diversity Association.

Another public session will be held today, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at The Hub, at 4936 Ross St.

The province recognizes it faces challenges such as poverty, family violence, and over-representation of aboriginal people in child intervention and justice systems. A social policy framework will help to better co-ordinate resources and actions to address these issues.

Pillipow said Premier Alison Redford has committed to plans for poverty reduction and childhood development.

In addition to public meetings, Albertans can participate in the discussion by completing the online survey, contributing to the blog and online discussions, and adding to the information.

The survey and blog will be online until July 31. It will remain open through December. Submissions from community-led discussions are due by July 31.

Ken Collier, chair of the local chapter of the Canadian Council of Canadians, said despite several avenues to comment online, topics are limited.

“In my view they have really carefully controlled and restricted what can be talked about,” Collier said. A draft framework will be developed in the fall.

To find out about other meetings, or for more information, visit www.socialpolicy.alberta.ca.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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