Alberta’s Income Supports are keeping people poor

Media Release

Calgary, AB, August 8, 2018 – In its 2018 snapshot “Poverty in Calgary”, Vibrant Communities Calgary highlights how those receiving Alberta Works and Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) payments are at higher risk of living in poverty than that of the rest of the population.

Simply put, provincial government income supports such as AISH, Alberta Works Expected to Work (ETW) and Alberta Works Barriers to Full Employment (BFE) are not enough, which results in substantial challenges for individuals and families throughout the province.

Over the last three years, inflation has risen while provincial government subsidies have not. As caseloads continue to rise, more Albertans are facing poverty as a result of relying on the programs that are meant to help them.

Living in deep poverty is almost inevitable for individuals receiving Alberta Works.  Even with supports, a single person might receive as little as $649.83/month to $833/month.

AISH is designed to support Albertans whose disabilities limit their ability to earn employment income. Unfortunately, the quality of life becomes severely restricted due to how little recipients receive. AISH recipients receive $1,588/month, which has remained unchanged since April of 2012. As of fall 2017, the average one-bedroom apartment in Calgary cost $1,025/month. This amounts to 64.5% of a monthly AISH payment.

As a result, housing alone becomes a significant drain on one’s monetary resources. Families with children and dependents are met with further fiscal barriers.

“Living without proper supports in navigating these systems can be an incredibly isolating experience,” says Franco Savoia, Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Calgary. “Many of those who qualify for income supports continue to struggle to make ends meet, relying on family, credit, loans, and limited employment opportunities to pay for their basic needs.”

Due to the inadequate level of assistance, single individuals and families become increasingly disadvantaged, experiencing enhanced difficulties accessing the resources to participate actively in society.

To ensure that Albertans relying on Alberta Works and AISH have adequate supports and the ability to alleviate financial insecurity, the Alberta Government can:

  • Index AISH and Alberta Works to inflation to help achieve and maintain adequate supports.
  • Increase asset limits for AISH and Alberta Works to generate the ability to maintain long-term financial security.
  • Raise the allowable earned income amounts so occasional, part-time earnings are not clawed back.
  • Encourage inclusive employment integration for those living in low income to reduce the reliance on government monetary transfers.
  • Support the public and private sector to redefine employability within the work place for those living with a disability.


To view a one-page summary visit:

Read the full report at:


About Vibrant Communities Calgary:

Vibrant Communities Calgary (VCC) is a non-profit organization that works collaboratively with various stakeholders, seeking to engage Calgarians to advocate for long-term strategies that address the root causes of poverty in Calgary. VCC is also the steward of Enough for All, Calgary’s poverty reduction strategy. For more information, please visit and

About Enough for All:

Enough for All, Calgary’s community-driven poverty reduction strategy was adopted unanimously by City Council and the United Way of Calgary and Area’s Board of Directors in 2013. In 2014, Vibrant Communities Calgary was appointed as the steward of the strategy. There are 20 collaboratives working on the four goals of the Enough for All Strategy. For more information, please visit Organizations and individuals are welcome to contact Vibrant Communities Calgary to get involved. Email


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For more information, please contact:

Stephanie Rosch
Communications and Engagement Specialist
Vibrant Communities Calgary
Phone: 403-283-2193

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