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Friday, February 15, 2008

Stelmach Is Dealing With the Alberta Social Infrastrucutre Deficit

I like most Albertans I strongly supported the Klein plan on our debt and deficit. I have become very concerned about the social infrastructure deficit that was created by the single minded fast-track focus on debt and deficit elimination. I don’t just blame the politicians for the social consequences of this concentrated fiscal effort. We citizens cheered them on as they squeezed every nickel out of the system and paid down debt with breakneck speed and efficiency.

I have been working professionally with many of the social damage consequences of ignoring the social infrastructure deficit we have created in the wake of our debt and deficit over-success.

One of the social deficit consequences I have been working on professionally was resolved on Valentine’s Day by Premier Stelmach under his “Building Our Quality of Life” platform plan. He agreed that his government would pick up the costs of Police Information Checks on volunteers. These volunteers are citizens who take time to work with not-for-profit community-based social service agencies. who together, are helping vulnerable Albertans.

The Alberta voluntary sector has wanted an enhanced and effective Police Information Checks system to be provided and paid for by the province for quite a while. The cost of doing police checks on volunteers has become a serious drain on the not-for-profit and voluntary sector program funds. These PICs are a vital part of providing the social service sector with a responsible volunteer recruitment and retention program.

Congratulations to Ed Stelmach for picking up the ball and the cost of PICs for volunteer screening for vulnerable Albertans. This key political promise will go a long way to easing some the unfair operational fiscal burden on community based social agencies.

These not-for-profit communities based social service agencies are the on-the-ground front-line people who are building better communities all over Alberta every day. These community-based social service groups are the backbone of a province wide system that is in crisis. Picking up the costs of PICs is a big step forward for those agencies that use community-minded volunteer citizen to help meet the needs of vulnerable Albertans like at-risk children, the elderly and those who are developmentally disabled.

Congratulations must go to Volunteer Alberta too for bring this issue to the provincial policy forefront and for quarterbacking it to this successful result.