New UCP budget scales back AISH increases

Last month, the UCP government released their latest budget, which saw less allocated to AISH than originally planned. As in, tens of millions of dollars.

If you’ve been following my coverage of the 2022–2023 budget for Alberta, you’re probably already familiar with the fact that the UCP government released their latest budget late last month.

This is their fourth budget since being elected, and it will be likely be their last budget before the election.

As you may already know, I’ve covered jobs, revenue, postsecondary, health, and K–12 education. Today, I want to talk about Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped, otherwise known as AISH.

When the UCP dropped their first budget in October 2019, they predicted that by the time the 2022–2023 budget year rolled around, they’d be paying $1.399 billion to fund operating expenses for the AISH programme.

The following spring, they bumped that number to $1.441 billion. Since then, however, that number has kept dropping.

Last spring, the UCP government cut that forecast down to $1.426 billion. And last month, they cut down even more, to $1.371 billion.

Not only is that less than what they predicted last year and the year before, it’s even less than the lowball target they forecasted back in the autumn of 2019.

To be fair, though, the government has increased the overall budget for the community and social services ministry, which is responsible for administering the AISH programme.

Here’s how 2022–2023 funding for the various CSS programmes has changed since the original target set in October 2019 and the new estimate announced just month.

OriginalNewChange% change
Ministry support services$12$15$325.0%
Employment & income support$790$813$232.9%
Disability services$1,378$1,392$141.0%
Homeless & outreach support services$197$193-$4-2.0$
Community supports & family safety$134$138$42.9%
in millions $; numbers may not add up proerply, due to rounding.

Looks like AISH and homeless/outreach programmes are the only ones taking a hit this year, compared to their original targets, losing $28 million and $4 million, respectively.

Now, let’s take a look at programme funding over the last 4 years, compared to the NDP’s last budget, in 2018–2019.

2018–20192022–2023Change% change
Ministry support services$13$15$215.4%
Employment & income support$921$813-$108-11.7%
Disability services$1,241$1,392$15112.2%
Homeless & outreach support services$196$193-$3-2.5$
Community supports & family safety$120$138$1815.0%
in millions $; numbers may not add up proerply, due to rounding.

Here, we see a significant increase in spending for AISH, compared to where the NDP left it, with an additional $229 million, a 20% jump.

Now before we get too excited about the UCP being generous, there is another figure we should keep in mind.

In December 2018, CSS had a total AISH client caseload of 61,555. Another 3 years later, in December 2021, that number was at 70,186. That’s an increase of 14.02%, or an average annual increase of 4.67%.

So, the 20% increase isn’t really a 20% increase when you consider that the number of people receiving that new $1.271 billion also went up.

Let’s look at this another way.

At 61,555 AISH recipients in 2018–2019, that $1.142 billion in funding would work out to about $18,553 per case.

Assuming last year’s caseload of 70,186 remains the same this year, then the 2022–2023 ASH budget of $1.371 billion would have a per case amount of $19,534.

That’s an increase of about $981, or 5.29% Over a 4-year period. And if this year’s caseload increases, then that amount will drop.

On a related note, Alberta’s consumer price index increased from 140.6 in 2018 to 149.3 in 2021, a 6.19% increase. And that’s not including any increases seen in 2022.

So, the per case bump of 5.29% isn’t even enough to cover inflation increases, which means AISH recipients will find it even harder to make ends meet than they did 4 years ago, even though, theoretically, they’re receiving more funding.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on politics and labour.

6 replies on “New UCP budget scales back AISH increases”

Hi Kim,
Thank you for your support and reporting on AISH. I would just point out (though you know but some readers probably won’t) that your last paragraph doesn’t specifically state that the bump goes to services and not to AISH income support cheques. I think it’s important for the public to understand since Redfords 400 a month increase in 2012, benefit rate (support cheques) since then had a one time increase of 97 dollars from the NDP which did very little at the time.
I had a few discussions with Dr. Swann in 2017 – 2018 about increases in benefit rates before the NDP increase. He had determined at that time the rate should have been moved up to the 2000 to 2400 a month rate. The benefit rate was depending if you were able to work and receive the 400 dollars of income allowed. He was disappointed with the NDP rate increase proposal at the time knowing it would make very little impact.
It been 5 years since then and we gave seen an increase in the usage of our food banks and homelessness. In 2019 (Kenney) Edmonton had over 1000 citizens homeless, today over 3000. It would be in the public interest and the the people on AISH to know how those two stats breakdown and how many AISH people were evicted, are couch surfer or had to make other living arrangements.
Conservative parties pride themselves of having “Christian Core Values”. Helping the the wealthy and not aiding the the poor doesn’t get any more Christian than not taxing the churches. It pure bullshit.
Having said all that I many of us won’t make it even to the next election (even if the NDP win with a hopeful majority). And increasing the rate 30 to 150.00 won’t catch us up so we can be indexed from then on. An increase to 2400 a month (many of us can’t live with others due to mental issues while other may be single parents or the only one to support their family). With this increase ( depending on which town or city you live in) and a cost of living index would achieve what the program should achieve, protect our most vulnerable.

just wondering if the aish is going to go up with all the food rent and bills how are we post to make it buy when it going get header and don’t have much left after the bills are payed and left just to have 2 grocery shopping and leve us with 2 buck to make it to appalments not much for cab or buss to get round just saying please let me know hop i am not saying nothing rong

Politicians of all moral strips can be found in every party. Although the UCP seems to attract the neoliberals, and as we know neoliberal economics seems to make sense, but has only been good at transferring wealth to the top while creating poverty everywhere else. When Travis Toews saw the incredible increase in fuel prices, he didn’t think, “Wow! We can re-index AISH or, help the homeless”, his first thoughts were for incentives for business. Knocking 13 cents off a liter of fuel will bring in a lot of votes, but it could have done a lot to help the homeless, seniors, and those on AISH. Toews bragged that Alberta has the lowest tax rates in the country, and if Alberta taxed as much as Ontario, we would have a 16 billion dollar surplus. Well, Ontario seems to be humming right along, so why not tax like Ontario and have a 16 billion dollar surplus? Imagine all of the help you could give to the vulnerable citizens in our community, with money left over for infrastructure.

Personally I think the increased profit on a barrel of oil is indirect War Profiteering. For the current oil prices to be so high, many vulnerable people are suffering. IMO the only way to clean the blood from the oil is to help vulnerable people.

Where your first thoughts go, reveal your character. When you win a million dollars, do you instantly think “I am going to help my starving family, or I am going to buy a Jet ski”?
Travis Toews first thoughts seemingly were, I am going to buy some votes, 13 cents at a time.

I would like to further mention.. a person who applies for AISH. Must also apply for CPPD. If the person qualified for CPPD. Aish program will deduct that amount dollar for dollar. So either way. Jason Kenny has ensured those with disabilities.. suffer even more hardships. With little hope.. and they wonder why threats are made to them. Or suicides increase.

As someone who is an AISH recipient, I can tell you that with the going rate of a 1 bedroom being $1000 a month, the increase on power cost, increases on food, hell everything is increasing. If I did not have a spouse who works we would be on the street. But even a boost in spousal earnings would help, I mean 2600/mo is only a little above minimum wage, plus any increase to CPPD is taken from AISH. Think about what you spend on things and tell me if you could survive and have any quality of life on $1600 / month. Trust me if I could work I would, I did work….

However I would like to state that AISH is higher than any other provinces disability programs.

I’ll put it simple aish with CCPD = $9.00per hour Alberta starting wage is $15.35 I believe. And people on starting wage say can’t live on that . How are people on Aish supposed to?

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