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Alberta

Protecting vulnerable Albertans this winter

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Alberta’s government is investing an additional $21.5 million for Albertans experiencing homelessness and family violence.

The pandemic continues to have a large impact on vulnerable people, and this funding will ensure access to services like 24-7 emergency shelter and support for victims of domestic violence while keeping clients safe.

The government announced this additional support at the Hope Mission at the Herb Jamieson Centre. Alberta’s government fulfilled a platform commitment with $4 million for the centre’s recent construction. This announcement furthers those efforts to support vulnerable people in Alberta.

Alberta’s government is also providing $1.5 million to activate up to 200 additional shelter beds at Commonwealth Stadium and will support on-site overdose prevention and treatment services.

“As we continue to navigate through COVID, one of our top priorities is to make sure all Albertans have a safe place to stay and access to the support they need. Together with the $78 million previously announced by Alberta’s government, this additional funding will help organizations on the front lines deliver the services vulnerable Albertans need.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Our community partners are critical to making sure people experiencing homelessness and domestic violence have safe places to stay and where they can still access the supports they need. This funding will go a long way to ensure shelters are providing Albertans with critical supports in a healthy environment.”

Jason Luan, Minister of Community and Social Services

“A quick look outside the window, and you’ll see how important this announcement is to the houseless Edmontonians who were looking for a warm place to sleep during this winter. We have identified the shelter gap in recent meetings with the Premier and his ministers, and they have responded by providing emergency funding for the Spectrum shelter, three needed southside shelters and our enhanced capacity emergency shelter at Commonwealth Stadium. We welcome this support and look forward to building on this collaboration to find more permanent and sustained solutions to end houselessness in Edmonton.”

Amarjeet Sohi, mayor, City of Edmonton

“The Calgary Drop-In Centre has been on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, working with our community partners to decrease the spread within our city’s homeless population. We are grateful to our partners at the Government of Alberta for the additional funding, which will support medical staff and overflow spaces to meet the increased demand at our main shelter.”

Sandra Clarkson, executive director, Calgary Drop-In Centre

“This funding will allow us to maintain extra capacity during the critical winter season. With the unpredictability of COVID-19, we will be able to keep people safe and socially distanced. Thank you to the provincial government for equipping us with extra capacity to serve everyone who needs safe, warm shelter during the cold of Alberta’s winter.”

Bruce Reith, executive director, Hope Mission

The $21.5-million funding package will be distributed as follows:

  • $13 million for emergency homeless shelters
  • $6.5 million for isolation facilities
  • $2 million for emergency women’s shelters

Emergency homeless shelters

Funding will support 14 expanded homeless shelter facilities to meet physical distancing requirements. Funding will also support, where possible, 24-7 access to regular meal service, showers, laundry services and connection to addictions and mental health services and housing.

Isolation facilities

Funding will support about 285 isolation spaces in 10 communities. These facilities are a critical component of the shelter pandemic response, and help alleviate pressure in the public health system by helping shelter clients who contract COVID-19 isolate and receive medical care if hospitalization is not required. Additional capacity may be added in some rural communities as needed.

Emergency women’s shelters

This funding will support service delivery adjustments at emergency women’s shelters. Due to the pandemic, there has been an increase in domestic violence across Alberta. This funding will help shelter operators offer more support through community outreach and virtual service delivery as well as hotel isolation, and adjust in-shelter services to align with public health orders.

Quick facts

  • This funding guarantees these supports will be in place until March 2022.
  • This funding is in addition to $78 million announced in 2020.
  • Funding will support emergency homeless shelters in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Lloydminster, Drayton Valley, Leduc, Slave Lake and Wetaskiwin.
  • The 10 isolation sites are located in Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Wetaskiwin, Peace River and Lac La Biche.
  • With the additional capacity at Commonwealth Stadium, up to 1,280 emergency shelter beds will be available in Edmonton this winter.
    • The shelter is anticipated to be operational in early December once an operator has been selected.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Central Alberta city to close homeless camp as future plans unknown

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WETASKIWIN, Alta. — A central Alberta city is closing a homeless encampment with help from Mounties because of safety risks it says will persist if it remains open.

Wetaskiwin voted last week to close “tent city” as most, if not all, people who were living there are now using the nearby warming shelter run by the Mustard Seed or the Samson Cree shelter.

Local fire services say they attended multiple fire-related calls to the camp since it opened in August, including one severe structure fire where “the possibility of death was very imminent,” and two instances where people sustained serious burns after falling into flames.

RCMP say they attended 37 calls related to assault, robbery, weapons and arson.

At one point, up to 60 people lived rough in the camp after the city forced the closure of its only shelter, but numbers dwindled with frigid temperatures and hindered social agency supports.

Provincial funding for the temporary shelter, which is a stone’s throw from the camp, is in place until March with no clear plans by the city on what happens if or when it closes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Second-degree murder charge laid after ‘unprovoked’ attack at southern Alberta prison

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DRUMHELLER, Alta. — RCMP say a man at a medium-security federal prison in southern Alberta has been charged in the death of a fellow inmate.

Mounties say officers responded to a call Wednesday of a serious assault at Drumheller Institution. 

They allege an assault on 34-year-old Jeffrey Ryan of Parkland County, Alta., was unprovoked.

RCMP say Ryan sustained serious injuries and later died in hospital.

Ashley Baird of Nanaimo, B.C., who is 38, has been charged with second-degree murder and is to appear in Drumheller provincial court on Feb. 11. 

Police say an autopsy has been ordered by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and will be performed in the coming days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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