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'As fast as we can get it out': Alberta rolls out plan for funding shelters, frontline charities

Agencies that provide frontline services to vulnerable populations will be able to apply for provincial grants beginning this week, says Alberta’s minister of community and social services.

Funding will immediately flow to homeless and women’s shelters

Groups that need provincial funding to help vulnerable populations will be able to apply online starting this week, says Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney. (Peter Evans/CBC)

Agencies that provide frontline services to vulnerable populations will be able to apply for provincial grants beginning this week, says Alberta's minister of community and social services.

Online applications will open this week for groups to apply for $30 million that will be administered by Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), Rajan Sawhney said in an interview Monday. 

The $30 million is half of $60 million being rolled out: $25 million will support homeless populations and $5 million will be allocated to women's shelters. 

"As fast as we can get it out, we want to get those funds into the hands of those organizations who can use it to serve the vulnerable," Sawhney said. 

She said the province is in the process of finalizing guidelines for the funding that will be administered by FCSS, and that both the guidelines and the application will be posted in "the next day or two." 

As the applications come in, a cross-ministry group will act quickly to distribute the funds, she said.

Along with the funding, the province announced the members of a new board that will advise the government on support for "civil society." The formation of the agency was promised in the United Conservative Party's campaign platform, Sawhney said. 

David Mitchell, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations, is one of the 15 members of the Premier's Council on Charities and Civil Society announced Saturday. Mitchell said it's a coincidence that the group's launch has coincided with the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the province. 

"It's something … we could not have anticipated, but on the other hand it might be timely for the council to be cutting its teeth on important policy issues at such an urgent time," he said. 

Mitchell said the council is not a decision-making body, but instead provides input and recommendations. He said its initial recommendations for spending the $60 million were to focus on getting funds to groups that provide services to vulnerable populations.

The group held its first meetings with Sawhney and Premier Jason Kenney last week, and council members have made themselves available for consultation on an ongoing basis, Mitchell said.

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