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The Voice of Albertans with Disabilities actively promotes full participation in society and provides a voice for Albertans with disabilities.

The VOICE of Albertans with Disabilities November 2016


Auditor General of Alberta reports on AISH Program deficiencies
Auditor General Merwan N. Saher FCPA, FCA, recently released his Report of the Auditor General of Alberta – October 2016 to members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, as required by Section 19(5) of the Auditor General Act.
 
   In his message, the Auditor General stated that ‘The purpose of a legislative audit office is to identify opportunities to improve the performance of and confidence in the public service.’  In 2016, his office undertook an audit of 146 entities, including ministries, departments, regulated funds and most provincial agencies.  Of particular interest to our members and stakeholder organizations was his review of Human Services systems in place to manage the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) Program. 
 
   He concluded that “the Department of Human Services is unable to demonstrate that the AISH Program is efficient.  The AISH application process favours people who are good at completing forms and are persistent.  Assessing eligibility takes too long, and the department cannot be sure its staff’s decisions are consistent.  With its existing reporting process, the department does not know what it needs to change to improve the program.”
 
   The Auditor General identified a number of improvements Alberta Human Services could make to better serve Albertans with disabilities requiring access to AISH benefits:
Ensure its application processes are user friendly
Set service standards for application processing times and regularly monitor against these standards
Improve procedures and guidelines to ensure staff apply policy in a consistent manner
Improve its processes to measure, monitor and report on the efficiency of the AISH program
 
   A full copy of the Auditor General’s report and recommendations can be found at
www.oag.ab.ca/reports.
 
International Day of Persons with Disabilities 
   The IDPD has been occurring since 1992 when the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed December 3 as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
   Celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at our annual Open House. Come and join us as we let you know about the work that Voice of Albertans with Disabilities and Alberta Disabilities Forum are doing and enjoy refreshments and good company!
Date: Friday, December 2, 2016
Time: 3:00 - 6:00 pm
Location: 106 - 10423 178 Street, Edmonton
RSVP to vad@vadsociety.ca
To find an IDPD activity in your area go to the 2016 International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Calendar of Events at www.humanservices.alberta.ca/department/premiers-council-idpd-events-calendar.html.
 
Voice of Albertans has History of Supporting Persons with Disabilities Seeking Access to AISH Program
   Through our Support and Referral Program, Albertans with disabilities and their families are able to obtain information on disability supports and programs available to them in Alberta.  Our staff provide valuable assistance with completing application forms including AISH, CPPD, CRHC, DTC and Income Support.  We are aware that our contact information for form completion assistance can be found on the AISH application form, in the Edmonton region.  We are also aware that physicians, Alberta Health Services and other organizations are referring their patients to the Voice of Albertans with Disabilities to obtain assistance with completing the AISH and other application forms.
 
   In a recent letter to the Honourable Irfan Sabir, Minister of Alberta Human Services, Voice of
Albertans with Disabilities informed the Minister that we have been providing this valuable service to Albertans with disabilities for several years now.  In fact, this year alone (April 1 to October 31), Voice staff have provided one-on-one form writing assistance to 178 persons seeking AISH and other benefits. 
 
   The need for this type of assistance is extraordinarily high and we often exceed our own capacity to provide this service on a weekly basis.   We have extended an invitation to the Minister to meet to discuss how we (Voice of Albertans with Disabilities) might be able to increase our capacity to continue to deliver and look to increasing our level of support.
 
Alberta’s AISH Program Participants Live in Poverty: ADF Report
   The Alberta Disabilities Forum struck the AISH Benefit working group to look at how Albertans with disabilities are impacted by the amount of monthly income provided by the AISH program.  The ADF AISH Benefit working group distributed a survey to their member organizations to hear the perspectives of Albertans who participate in the AISH program. 
 
   Responses were received from Albertans across all types of disabilities who spoke of the rising cost of living in Alberta, increasing debt and the stress of wondering what will happen to them when their family and friends are no longer able to help support their basic monthly expenses.  Many of those who qualify for the program are struggling to make ends meet, while relying on family, credit, loans and limited employment opportunities to pay for basic needs.
47% said they are unable to afford the costs related to their disability
50% said they are unable to afford food and special diet needs
52% said they are unable to afford transportation
62% said they are unable to afford clothing and footwear
  
   The ADF position paper, ‘Alberta’s AISH Program Participants Live in Poverty,’ which has been submitted to government, recommends that the Government of Alberta:
Increase the AISH benefit to meet the current cost of living in Alberta, including the necessary resources to provide adequate accommodations, utilities, food, health needs and other basic necessities for a quality life.
Conduct an annual review of the AISH benefit to increase the benefit amount by the rate of inflation in Alberta.
 
            A copy of ‘Alberta’s AISH Program Participants Live in Poverty’ can be found on the Alberta Disabilities Forum website at www.adforum.ca/publications.
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Edmonton, AB T5S 1R5
Email: vad@vadsociety.ca

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