Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Welcome

Welcome to the website for Albertans Advocating for Change Together. We are a network of self-advocates and self-advocacy groups across Alberta. 

We find out what self-advocates are doing and share it with others so we can all be stronger. We find out what is important to self-advocates and make sure they have a provincial voice.

2020 Activities

AACT got money through FCSS at the City of Calgary to do a project to connect people in rural and remote parts of Alberta to the self-advocacy community. We are looking for people with disabilities who need technology or technical know-how outside of Calgary and Edmonton.. We will help them with these things. Right now, we are hiring a Project Manager, up to 5 Regional Coordinators and Peer Trainers with disabilities. Click on the links below to see the job postings for
If you are interested in one of these positions, mail your resume to alberta.act@gmail.com by July 10, 2020.
AACT co-hosted a Town Hall on Zoom with MLAs on May 14, 2020. Our ASL Interpreters were from FLIC Inc. and KLM Captioning provided text of the meeting. Thank you to all who participated.



You can listen to what was said at the meeting by clicking on Town Hall Zoom Recording. Click on Closed-captioned notes to download the text from KLM Captioning (33 pages in PDF) 
Also, here are links to Mental Health Resources letter by request (A letter from MLA Tracy Allard to MLA Marie Renaud April 14, 2020)
We have had regular meetings with the Disability Advocate and members of the Community and Social Services (CSS) Ministry in Alberta. This is the Ministry that runs the poverty support programs Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) and Income Supports, as well as the Persons with Developmental Disabilities Program (PDD). The government has made a few changes this year that have negatively affected people with and without disabilities who rely on social assistance: 1) They de-indexed AISH and Income Supports so that they no longer increase with the cost of living. This means that the money people get does not go as far and pushes them further into poverty. 2)  They changed the date they pay AISH and Income Supports into people's accounts to the first of the month. This means that thousands of Albertans have had to negotiate with landlords, lenders, utility and cell phone companies to change the dates that their payments are due. Many people have had difficulty doing this or doing this quickly and have experienced extra costs in late fees and NSF bank fees (about $45 for each payment). These increased demands on people with few resources has happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time getting things done is more difficult and puts people at greater risk.

Over and over in our meetings with government, we have told them what people with disabilities and poor people need.

  • We asked the government to change the AISH/Income Support payment date back to what it was.
  • We asked for a top-up of $300 (like in BC) to AISH/Income Support payments to help with COVID-19 extra expenses.
  • We asked the government to ensure that people on AISH/Income Supports be given proper PPE regardless of whether they get agency support or not.
So far, the government has changed how they handle CERB for people on AISH and Income Supports who lost their jobs due to AISH. Before, they would claw back CERB or EI dollar for dollar from AISH or Income Support. Now, single people who get CERB and some form of social assistance get to keep $300 of CERB outright and then will have 75% of the rest of CERB clawed back from their AISH or Income Support. People who lost their job before COVID-19 started still have EI clawed back dollar-for-dollar from social assistance.

AACT continues to advocate for these things and for the large majority of people on AISH and Income Supports who do not have access to CERB and have additional expenses due to the payment date change and COVID-19.

2019 Activities
When the 2020 budget came out from the Alberta government, they de-indexed AISH and other social assistance to poor people. This means that after they agreed last year to raise AISH with the cost of living each year, they changed their mind and will not increase it. We wrote a letter to the Minister of Community & Social Services to protest this change. We sent copies to lots of our ally organizations. Click here to see our letter.

We hope you will write letters to let the government know how de-indexing affects you and what your living expenses are like now. Let them know how your costs are going up and how it affects you. Also contact your MLA and ask to meet. Click here for what you can do to prepare to have a good meeting with government.

AACT sent its final report on the Summit to the Community and Social Services Ministry of Alberta, who helped us with the Summit. We sent copies of the report to  regional self-advocacy groups. You can read the whole report or just the parts you want to read on our Summit page. If you want your own copy of the report, ask for it at alberta.act@gmail.com.

We have just started planning on the next Self-Advocacy Summit.  We do not yet know when it will be. We are looking for your ideas as to what we should do or talk about at the next Summit. Please send your ideas to us at alberta.act@gmail.com.

2018 Activities
AACT took part in the PDD Review!  Click here to read what AACT sent to the PDD Review panel based on what self-advocates said at the Self-Advocacy Summit.

We hosted a Self-Advocacy Summit October 1 - 3, 2018 at Deer Valley Meadows Camp near Alix in Central Alberta. Our theme was "Listen. Learn. Take Action!"About 120 self-advocates and allies came and talked with members of the Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, the PDD Review Team and the Disability Advocate's office. We identified lots of issues and came up with good ideas to make things better for people with disabilities. AACT will share these good ideas with the government. Check out our newsletter for the Summit story with photos.


2017 Activities

This year we are planning another Self-Advocacy Summit for October 1 - 3, 2018 at Deer Valley Meadows Camp near Alix in Central Alberta. We invite you to speak at the Summit. Tell us what you want to talk about:


2016 Activities

This year we started a list of speakers who will talk to self-advocacy groups. You can contact anyone on the list to see if they will speak to your group. We also started a feature in our newsletters called "Tips for Self-Advocacy Groups" to help all of our self-advocacy groups be stronger by learning from each other.

2015 Activities

This year we put in a proposal to the government to help self-advocacy groups learn to make videos using cell phones and other devices and free or cheap video-editing apps. Videos are a good way for groups to show what they do, talk about important issues and get new members. They did not give us an answer about our proposal.

AACT does not get a regular grant from the government to do its work. We have to raise money through memberships and fundraising. We had a 50/50 draw for up to $1500 (if we sold all the tickets) on September 30, 2015. It helped pay for us to have a face-to-face meeting of the AACT Council.

2014 Highlights

We are very excited about the Self-Advocacy Summit we held on June 13 - 15, 2014. It was free for up to 200 self-advocates and their supporters. Participants had a great time seeing old friends, meeting new people and learning from each other.


We want to know what you liked best about the Summit.

Follow us on Twitter @AlbertaACT.