On October 24, 2019, the Honourable Travis Toews, Minister of Treasury Board and Finance introduced Budget 2019.
This budget delivers on our mandate of creating jobs and growing the economy. It protects front-line services and supports for the most vulnerable. It charts a path back to balance through targeted reductions and thoughtful reallocations. It delivers on key promises and was developed through extensive consultation.
Budget 2019 provides $1.6 billion for Children’s Services, an increase of $94 million compared to 2018-19. The expenditure is expected to grow by 15 per cent by 2022-23, compared to 2018-19. This increase aligns with government’s commitment to protect vulnerable Albertans while living within our means.
Funding has increased in areas to ensure safety and well-being for the populations we serve.
Based on voted operating expense, we have increased the Child Intervention budget by $68.5 million and increased funding for Child Care by $15.9 million to address caseload growth. Early Intervention Services for Children and Youth also received an increase of $.75 million to ensure at-risk children, youth and families are able to access services and supports before a crisis occurs, preventing the need for more costly interventions later on. The ministry is aligning our programs and services in this area with the Well-Being and Resiliency Framework to reflect evidence-based practice and a trauma-informed approach to care.
We are working to increase transparency in the way we display the Children’s Services Budget, and for the first time, Policy, Innovation and Indigenous Connections is represented in our budget as a division. Funding for this division decreased by $1.7 million as we re-focused investment on frontline services.
In keeping with our commitment to ensure services and supports are there for those most in need, the government is consolidating the Alberta Child Benefit and the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit to focus spending on families with greatest need. The new benefit will increase the amount received by low-income families with little or no employment, and will slightly reduce benefits for families with some employment income. It will save money in administration costs and streamline processes.
Our budget charts a path back to balance through targeted reductions and thoughtful reallocations. Each of these changes was made after thorough review and careful consideration of benefits and potential impacts — with our promise in mind — to make sure services and supports are there for those who need them most. It allowed us the opportunity to take feedback from ministry staff and valued community partners on things that weren’t as effective as they could be — or that no longer reflected the needs of clients across the province. We continue to welcome feedback from partners and invite them to share their valuable insights as we move forward.
Through Budget 2019, we will realize savings in a couple of key areas and lay the groundwork for changes beginning in April 2020. As we move forward, we will be consolidating prevention and early intervention services to align with the Well Being and Resiliency Framework, to improve consistency in expectations, deliverables, service delivery approaches and outcomes across the province.
We made decisions related to non-statutory program delivery and will be terminating or renegotiating some contracts and grants in this area. We will also be eliminating kin child care and stay-at-home subsidies effective January 1, 2020.
Thank you for the work you do — every single day — to keep Alberta’s children and youth safe and provide services and supports that help build stronger, healthier families and communities. I am grateful to have met a number of you over the summer and look forward to ongoing and open conversations across our great province.