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Province steps in to break the cycle of child abuse in Central Alberta

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Supporting vulnerable children in central Alberta

Alberta taxpayers are spending $3.4 million to help build a new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC) in Red Deer to provide services to vulnerable children and youth.

CACAC will advocate for and provide services to children facing child abuse and mental health issues. Alberta’s government has approved a land lease between Red Deer Polytechnic and CACAC for about one acre, where a new facility will be located.

Quick facts

  • The total project cost for the new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre is $22.4 million. This includes $19 million in donor funding and equity and $3.4 million from the Alberta government, which will be used to connect utility lines to service the land.
  • Alberta’s government approved the lease of land from the Red Deer Polytechnic under a 50-year lease agreement at $1 per year.
  • The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre will construct and operate the new centre.

“Child abuse has no place in our province and Alberta’s government is committed to keeping vulnerable children safe.  Through this unique project, we will provide a mix of social and justice services to ensure we support victims, prosecute offenders and deliver critical mental health supports.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

This is the first successful project approved through the government’s unsolicited proposals framework. The framework provides a pathway for private sector organizations like CACAC to bring government investment ideas and/or innovative technologies. The goal is to provide public infrastructure, including social service facilities, highways, public transportation, health clinics, schools, housing, agriculture and irrigation systems.

“We are keen on supporting any viable project put forward by the private sector to help ensure Albertans get the infrastructure they need. The new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre is a tremendous example of what can be achieved when we collaborate. Together, we can build communities, boost economies, support jobs and provide critical services to vulnerable Albertans.”

Prasad Panda, Minister of Infrastructure

“The new Child Advocacy Centre will provide a host of opportunities for post-secondary students in both child care and children services. Through work-integrated learning opportunities, we are providing employers with access to new talent while preparing for Alberta’s economic recovery and aligning educational outcomes with labour market needs.”

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education

“Together with Alberta’s government, we’re bringing to life a one-of-a-kind model in Canada. This funding announcement affirms that our government leaders are declaring that children who risk coming forward need all the help we can muster. They are acting so that victims of child abuse and those facing mental health issues find the very best supports at what could be their most vulnerable time.”

Mark Jones, chief executive officer, Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre

 

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Edmonton council to ask province to support new centre to fight downtown crime

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By Fakiha Baig in Edmonton

City council has voted unanimously to ask the government of Alberta to support the creation of a hub in Edmonton’s Chinatown where social workers, firefighters and peace officers could work together to reduce crime.

City administration submitted a report to council Monday that describes the proposed Healthy Streets Operations Centre.

David Jones, who is with the city and presented the report, told councillors it would not be a traditional police station.

“The people who will see the benefits of this include Chinatown residents and businesses, but also people who are on the streets who are vulnerable and being preyed on by some of the criminal element,” Jones said.

The creation of the centre is one of several actions the city has promised to address a spike in violent crime downtown, in nearby Chinatown and on the transit system.

Edmonton police officers have already increased their presence in problem areas.

In May, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro used his ministerial power to demand a report from the city on what is being done to get crime under control.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said during Monday’s council meeting that the city has delivered with its plan for the centre and now it is time for the province to step up.

“Edmonton gets the lowest per-capita funding to support ending homelessness compared to seven other cities (in Alberta). I think it’s really important that we ask the people whose inaction has caused harm to the community to be stepping up,” Sohi said.

“Most of the violence in Chinatown is related to houselessness … and addictions causing a lot of harm to the community and to individuals. We’re asking city taxpayers to pick up the pieces or pay for the consequences of lack of investment in health and lack of investment in housing.”

Sohi added he gets the sense the province wants to help.

The provincial government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The report says the centre will operate seven days a week, 21 hours a day, and could cost up to $18.1 million over the next four years.

The city and Edmonton Police Service could partially support the centre and Jones said there have also been offers from different businesses in Chinatown to provide a building for the hub at no cost.

But council voted in favour of asking the provincial government to determine how it can provide mental health, housing and shelter support.

Sohi said he plans to engage with the province and will report back to council on Aug. 15.

Jones said to get the centre up and running by next summer, the city aims to hire four peace officer sergeants, 16 community peace officers, two community safety liaisons and three firefighters or fire prevention officers.

The report said community members asked for increased security in problem areas and that building a centre in “hot spots” can effectively reduce crime. Research cited in the report has also shown it wont displace violence to other areas.

“Studies have consistently found no noticeable displacement and, in some cases, a diffusion effect, meaning that hot-spot policing reduces crime in the areas adjacent to the hot spots as well.”

Dr. Temitope Oriola, a criminology professor at the University of Alberta, said the hub model has been around for at least a decade in Canada and the centre is a good start.

“The real test is to ensure it is not too heavily tilted toward and reliant on policing,” he said in a email.

“The approach needs to have law enforcement as one of several critical components with people, community revitalization and customized social service at the epicentre.”

Oriola added the centre would be most effective in reducing crime if it also goes hand-in-hand with other initiatives in the city that address addictions issues and homelessness.

“Employment created should also focus on those most directly connected to Chinatown,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Alberta

Alberta expands its support for Ukrainians fleeing war and settling in the province

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Edmonton – The Alberta government is expanding its support for Ukrainians coming to the province from the war-ravaged country.

Premier Jason Kenney said there’s a special, deep connection between Alberta and Ukraine, with more than 369,000 Albertans who have Ukrainian roots.

“That is why we are proud to have opened our doors of refuge to Ukrainians fleeing the violence of that conflict,” he said Monday at a news conference at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village just east of Edmonton.

Kenney said more than 3,800 Ukrainians — many of whom are women and children because men are required to stay behind to help defend their nation — have already arrived in Alberta and thousands more are expected as the conflict continues into its fourth month.

“Starting July 25, Ukrainian evacuees arriving in Alberta will be eligible for new forms of aid,” he said.

Those additional measures, he said, include temporary financial assistance for basic living expenses — such as food, clothing and rent — for up to six months. Anyone with children under the age of 12 would also be able to apply for child-care support for six months, said Kenney.

“This expanded support will be key for people whose lives have been thrown into chaos by the invasion,” he said. “We can’t take away their fears for those who have been left behind, but we can at least dispel the uncertainties that come with trying to start over and make ends meet in a new country.”

Orysia Boychuk, president of the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress, said the income support and child-care subsidy are appreciated.

“We are confident this will definitely help support and contribute to the Ukrainian nationals’ successful integration in Canadian society,” she said at the news conference.

“We also thank the Alberta government for its unwavering support for the past four months as Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine.”

Kenney said the additional supports are expected to cost between $15 million and $38 million, depending on how many Ukrainians arrive in the coming months.

The province has already provided money for settlement and language services, humanitarian aid and defensive equipment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2022.

— By Colette Derworiz in Calgary

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