Provincial Hate Crimes Unit coming

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This unit will work with police and law enforcement, including Crown prosecutors, to improve the specialized training they receive to fight hate crimes and extremism in Alberta.

“Together, we must continue the fight against racism, hate, intolerance and religious persecution in all forms, including Islamophobia. Two years ago, our government stood in solidarity with all Muslim Canadians in grieving the shooting at a mosque in Quebec. Today, we stand in solidarity with Muslims in Alberta, in Canada and all across the world. And we recommit ourselves to end this hate wherever it is found.”

Rachel Notley, Premier

The Provincial Hate Crimes Unit will assemble specialists from various police forces with the mandate to focus exclusively on investigating the proliferation of hate groups and hate crimes in Alberta.

The Provincial Hate Crimes Unit was one of the recommendations in government’s Taking Action Against Racism report, released in June 2018. The report was created after Education Minister David Eggen met 100 community groups that offered their expertise on how the Government of Alberta could best support diversity and inclusion.

Since the launch of the report, ministers and MLAs have met with hundreds of community groups across the province to hear their feedback.

Since the report’s release, two actions were taken immediately:

  • An Anti-Racism Advisory Council was established. It is imperative that people most affected by racism guide government’s work. The council shapes how government tackles discrimination. It is the first government organization dedicated to fighting racism in Alberta.
  • A Community Anti-Racism Grants program was started to fund community initiatives to fight racism. Grants will fund better training and support services, and there is a dedicated stream for funding groups led by Indigenous peoples.

Quick facts

  • A police-reported hate crime happens in Alberta about once every three days.
  • Nearly 2,000 Albertans and 100 community groups offered their expertise on how the Government of Alberta can support diversity and inclusion.
  • Alberta is a diverse province, and becoming more diverse every day. Census figures over the last 20 years show the share of Albertans from different racial backgrounds has more than doubled. In 1996, it was about one in 10. Today, it’s about one in four.


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Supporting affordable housing in Stony Plain

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(L to R) Lori-Anne St. Arnault, Stony Plain MLA Erin Babcock, Mayor William Choy and Meridian Housing Foundation vice chair Judy Bennett at Whispering Waters Manor in Stony Plain.

The $14-million affordable housing project includes 63 one- and two?bedroom units to meet the needs of adults aged 55 or over with low income. The province is contributing $6 million to the project to help address the demand for affordable housing in the Stony Plain area.

“All Albertans need a safe and affordable place to call home. We heard from Albertans that more affordable housing is needed in smaller and rural communities like Stony Plain. Our government is helping ensure people with low income do not have to leave the community they love to find housing they can afford.”

Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing

“The residents of Stony Plain and surrounding region will benefit tremendously from the addition of this much-needed new housing facility. The Meridian Housing Foundation continues to provide valuable support, care and accommodations to enhance our community. We appreciate the Government of Alberta’s commitment and contribution to this critical project.”

William Choy, mayor, Town of Stony Plain

Meridian Housing Foundation, the local housing provider, will manage the units. Commercial space will also be available in the new four-storey complex to generate additional income, resulting in a sustainable operating model. 

“We welcome the news of the province’s commitment of funding contribution towards affordable housing in the Town of Stony Plain. This funding demonstrates the Government of Alberta’s support for affordable housing and will address the shortage of appropriate housing for our communities. When partners come together, we can go far and make housing possible to meet the needs of our residents and provide them a home of choice.”

Lori-Anne St. Arnault, executive director, Meridian Housing Foundation

The affordable apartments are expected to welcome tenants in 2020.

Supporting this project is part of government’s commitment to build and restore 4,100 affordable housing units through the Provincial Affordable Housing Strategy.


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First Nations getting new water systems

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Minister Feehan, First Nations leaders and members of West Interlake Water Commission celebrate progress on First Nations Regional Drinking Water Tie-in Program.

In 2017, Premier Rachel Notley committed $100 million to deliver clean drinking water to the boundaries of First Nations. Ten projects are now underway that will benefit 14 First Nations across the province.

Alberta’s First Nations Regional Drinking Water Tie-In Program is a collaboration between First Nations, the Alberta government, municipalities or water commissions and the federal government.

The program supports the elimination of long-term drinking water advisories, while making sure there is sustainable drinking water on reserves.

Grants are given to local water commissions or water supply municipalities to extend their service to First Nations.

“As Alberta continues on the journey of reconciliation, it is of the utmost importance that Indigenous people have access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water. Building up capability and ensuring water sovereignty for First Nations is my top priority.”

Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations

“We’re very pleased to have concluded an agreement with Alberta in December of 2018 that both respects and protects our treaty rights and self-government and, at the same time, is a key part of securing an abundant, safe and reliable water supply for decades to come. We are hopeful the agreement will also serve as a model for resolving future water disputes between Alberta and other First Nations. This is a positive development.”

Chief Craig Makinaw, Ermineskin First Nation

“I want to commend the province on the work they’ve completed over the past four years – and specifically their commitment to making a positive impact in Indigenous communities. Our members have experienced the direct benefits of provincial programs that are aimed at improving the community’s overall safety, health and well-being, and the First Nations Regional Drinking Water Tie-In Program is one such example.”

Chief Bernice Martial, Cold Lake First Nation

“Projects that create the ability for First Nation communities to access potable water and wastewater infrastructure, which helps to build capacity to serve their communities, are truth and reconciliation in action. I applaud the efforts Alberta and the federal government are taking, by providing funds directly earmarked to insure full inclusion and full partnership at the decision-making table.”

Lorne Olsvik, West Interlake Water Commission

Quick facts

  • The First Nations Regional Drinking Water Tie-In Program invests roughly $100 million over six years:
    • 2017-18: $14.5 million
    • 2018-19: $24.4 million
    • 2019-20: $24.4 million
    • 2020-21: $12.8 million
    • 2021-22: $12.2 million
    • 2022-23: $9.6 million
  • Current funded projects:
    • Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation
    • Paul First Nation
    • Whitefish (Goodfish) Lake First Nation
    • Cold Lake First Nations
    • Frog Lake First Nation
    • Dene Tha’ First Nation
    • Alexander First Nation
    • Beaver Lake Cree Nation
    • Ermineskin Cree Nation
    • Mikisew Cree First Nation


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Building connections in Lethbridge

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(L to R) MLA Maria Fitzpatrick, Minister Mason, Mayor Spearman and Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips

The eastbound Highway 3 bridge needs to be replaced to meet the needs of the growing Lethbridge population and to support critical commercial and industry activity.

In 2018 the government stepped up and rehabilitated the current bridge to ensure it was safe for users in the short term. The new bridge is a long-term solution that meets the needs of the community, with features like a pedestrian pathway.

Highway 3 is the major east-west corridor in southern Alberta between Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The Highway 3 bridge provides a vital connection between destinations in and around Lethbridge.

“Our government is committed to building strong, sustainable infrastructure across the province. This new long-awaited bridge puts safety first while ensuring Lethbridge commuters spend less time in traffic and more time with their family and community.”

Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation

“The Highway 3 bridge has been used by Lethbridge commuters for many years. With safety at top of mind, we are pleased the Alberta government is investing in these long-awaited improvements.”

Chris Spearman, mayor, City of Lethbridge

Quick facts

  • The eastbound bridge was originally built as a two- lane, two-way bridge in 1947.
  • In 1966, a new westbound bridge was open to traffic that allowed for two lanes eastbound and two lanes westbound.
  • The eastbound bridge was rehabilitated in 2018 to give it another 10 to 15 years of service life.
  • Planning, design, acquiring rights of way, environmental permits and First Nation consultation are the next stages in the project.
  • The project will support 308 direct and 221 indirect jobs.
  • On average nearly 34,000 vehicles travel across the Highway 3 bridge in Lethbridge every day.


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New Zealand terrorist attacks: Premier Notley

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“The coordinated and violent terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, are devastating. At least 49 people were killed, and many more injured, while they gathered to pray together. 

“On behalf of all Albertans, I offer my condolences to everyone affected by this act of terror – those who were at the mosques and Muslims around the world who mourn for the losses in their community and feel less safe today. 

“Albertans stand with you – I stand with you – and our hearts embrace you.

“We know there is hate in the world but we can never forget that love is stronger. There are those who want to fan the flames of intolerance but that is not how Alberta was built. Today, as Alberta’s Muslim community gathers for Friday prayers, I want to thank the police officers and community members – people from all faiths and backgrounds – who have already stepped up to show love and support to help defend the sense of security that all of us expect and deserve. No one should feel unsafe because of where and how they worship.

“Together, we must continue the fight against racism, hate, intolerance and religious persecution of all forms, including Islamophobia. Our diversity is our strength.

“We are stronger together.”


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Governments of Canada and Alberta reach 10-year housing agreement

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Minister Sohi and Minister Sigurdson sign a $678-million bilateral agreement for affordable housing in Alberta.

Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources, on behalf of Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), and Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing, today announced they have reached a bilateral agreement under the National Housing Strategy (NHS). This agreement, which will be cost-shared ‎by the governments of Canada and Alberta, demonstrates a joint commitment to prioritize affordable housing.

The 10-year agreement will invest $678 million to protect, renew and expand social and community housing, and support Alberta’s priorities related to housing repair, construction and affordability. The governments of Canada and Alberta will also work together on the design and implementation of a new Canada Housing Benefit for the province, to provide affordability support directly to families and individuals in housing need. The new agreement marks the beginning of a partnership that will be supported by long-term and predictable funding starting April 1, 2019.

This is a ‎progressive housing agreement that commits the governments of Canada and Alberta to new and higher standards of transparency, public engagement and housing quality, including improved energy efficiency and accessibility. The agreement also acknowledges the importance of prioritizing people most in need, incorporating a human rights-based approach to housing and applying a gender lens to all investments. 

“We are striving to ensure that every Canadian has a safe and affordable place to call home.  Long-term and predictable funding for housing has been needed for more than a decade. Today, with the Alberta government, we have taken a significant step toward our goal of building strong communities where Canadian families can prosper and thrive, now and for the future. Our government will continue working in partnership with Alberta and other provinces and territories towards a 15 per cent expansion in new affordable housing units and renewing 20 per cent of existing community housing units across the country.”

Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources

“Alberta’s first Affordable Housing Strategy was launched in 2017 with the goal of building and renewing 4,100 units, and that goal is about to be achieved and exceeded. This new agreement means Alberta can continue our bold approach to address the housing needs of Albertans. We want to make sure that all Albertans have a safe place to call home, close to their families and communities. We are eager to continue this important work with our federal partners.”

Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing

Quick facts

  • The $678-million‎ investment includes $339 million from the Government of Canada and $339 million from the Government of Alberta.
  • These investments are in addition to more than $638 million of existing federal housing investments in Alberta through the Social Housing Agreement (SHA) over 10 years. In addition to new construction, combined investments under the NHS bilateral agreement and the SHA will target the preservation of at least 23,700 existing community housing units in Alberta.
  • The NHS is an ambitious 10-year, $40-billion+ plan that will reduce or eliminate from housing need 530,000 families across Canada, create 100,000 new housing units, as well as repair and renew more than 300,000 housing units and reduce chronic homelessness by 50 per cent.
  • The NHS is built on strong partnerships between the federal, provincial and territorial governments, and continuous engagement with others, including municipalities, Indigenous governments and organizations, and the social and private housing sectors. This includes consultations with Canadians from all walks of life, and people with lived experience of housing need.
  • All NHS investments delivered by the federal, provincial and territorial governments will respect the key principles of the NHS that support partnerships, people and communities.
  • The Government of Alberta will develop and publish three-year action plans, beginning in 2019-20, setting targets and outlining how it will use federal and cost-matched funding to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • Since November 2015, the federal government has invested almost $510 million in housing in Alberta.

Associated links

  • As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers unbiased housing research and advice to all levels of Canadian government, consumers and the housing industry. For more information, please visit cmhc.ca or follow us on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram  and Facebook.

Editor’s Note: This news release was also issued by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation on March 15, 2019.
 

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