Alberta Opposition NDP leader Rachel Notley says ending homelessness would be a priority if she is re-elected prime minister in 2023.
Speaking to hundreds of delegates on the second day of the Alberta Municipal Congress on Thursday, Notley said her party would “seize every opportunity” to work to eradicate the provincial problem.
“The first thing we would do is stop a few backward steps this government has taken that, I believe, have in fact significantly contributed to growing homelessness,” she told reporters at a press conference after her presentation.
When asked for details on future financial commitments, Notley said the details will emerge after ongoing consultations are completed, which also include the preparation of strategies against poverty and affordable housing.
But Notley said the NDP government will reverse the “massive cuts” to rental supplements intended for vulnerable Albertans living with barriers to full employment, and those expected to work.
The government’s February budget showed a combined financial cut of $ 66.4 million for those supports.
Community and Social Services spokesman Justin Marshall said there has been a temporary drop in income support cases, “most likely due to the pandemic and availability of federal recovery benefits.”
Another priority Notley outlined was provincial financial support for municipalities, and she said her government will introduce and pass legislation to “link provincial revenues ”to municipal funding.
“It’s the concept of sharing both increases and decreases in income and ensuring that the financial cycles match what is really happening in the economy,” she said.
Although she said it would be “too early” to put out details, Notley said she will work to bring the stability and predictability to funding that municipalities have requested.
But Municipal Affairs spokesman Greg Smith said it is wrong to characterize the $ 722 million in annual funding through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) until 2024-2025 as unstable or unpredictable.
Smith said the government added nearly $ 500 million last year to provide municipalities with $ 1.1 billion for its priorities.
“In fiscal year 2024-25, the Local Government Fiscal Framework will replace MSI and deliver $ 722 million as a baseline of funding for Alberta municipalities in the first year of the new program, as we work with municipalities to set up the new funding formula, he said.
Provincial financial cuts for urban infrastructure projects have met with criticism over the past year.
The City of Edmonton has projected a $ 150 million cut to infrastructure funding for projects such as roads, bridges and recreation centers over the next four years as a result of the program changes.
In February, former Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said the cuts will slow the recovery of the city and province.