Alberta Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jeremy Nixon says the federal government’s efforts to invest in supports for vulnerable communities fall short when Ottawa doesn’t consult with the province first. 

In a year-end interview with True North, Nixon said the Trudeau Liberals have “bypassed” consultation with the provincial government. 

“(They) tried to directly apply these things in ways that don’t always make sense with what the government is trying to do, or in ways that doesn’t align with the needs that are in our community,” he told True North. 

“To address issues and supports for vulnerable Canadians they need to work with the provincial governments and allow us to do what we do best.”

For example, Ottawa recently announced rent subsidies for those who make less than $20,000 a year — a commitment which excludes those with a disability by just $200. Albertans on Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) receive $20,220 annually from the province. 

“They either knew what they were doing or they’re willfully incompetent,” Nixon said. 

Still, the minister is positive about the direction new Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is taking. He said she spent about 45 minutes chatting with each MLA after she won the United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership race, discussing the challenges of the disability sector, people on fixed incomes and affordability challenges.

 “She was certainly moved to action,” he said. “I just really appreciate her response.”

In the last month, Smith has announced public safety and community response task forces for both Edmonton and Calgary to respond to issues of addiction, homelessness and public safety. 

In an announcement on Dec. 13, Edmonton Police Services chief of police Dale McFee said provincial services requested the integrated approach.

“It is essential leadership if we are going to unpack the multi-layered issues impacting those dealing with addiction, mental health and homelessness, and I am pleased to see the province move forward with this urgent work,” he said. 

Nixon, who sits on both task forces, said it’s the first time since the UCP has been in government that the four ministries are working together in a formal way to tackle issues plaguing Alberta’s two major cities. He said the task force is working towards completing what’s been learned from previous reports over the last three years and creating cohesion across government. 

“Sitting at the same table with municipal leaders, indigenous leaders, police and (emergency medical services), as well as nonprofit leaders is very significant,” he said. “Too often governments cannot operate in silos and so having all of us together, hopefully that makes a difference in executing judgment.”


  • Rachel Emmanuel

    Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.