Alberta Disability Workers Association
Building a Valued, Proud & Professional Workforce
Election 2019

The provincial election is coming April 16. And there is much to learn before you or the person you support is ready to vote. ADWA has tried to put everything you need to know in one webpage (or at least links you can follow from a single webpage). Basic election information is found at https://www.elections.ab.ca/current-election-information/.

Who can I vote for?

The first thing to know is who you can vote for. For that, you need to know the name of your riding and who is running in that riding. Some of the electoral districts and their boundaries have changed since the last election. To find out:

The daveberta.ca website is not the official Alberta election website, but it does provide links so you can find out more about candidates, where possible. Not every party will have a candidate in every electoral district.

What do the parties and their candidates stand for?

While you will vote for a specific candidate, the candidates mostly believe and act according to their party’s platform, principles or position statements. The party’s leader is the spokesperson of the party. Each party publishes what it believes is important to do if elected on the party website. Start by looking at the party websites to find out which parties think the same way as you do on topics most important to you (or if you are helping someone you support prepare for the election, which parties think the way they do on topics most important to them). You can find links to all of the parties, their address and leaders at https://www.elections.ab.ca/parties-and-candidates/parties/.  

Note that provincial parties do not have the same platform and priorities as the federal parties with the same name because the different levels of government have different responsibilities. Here is where to find each provincial party’s platform:

The CBC has a Vote Compass survey that asks you how you feel about a variety of election issues and compares your answers to the positions of the main parties. To get the most accurate picture, take the additional step of saying how important to you each issue is. The Vote Compass then tells you which party or parties are most like you. The Vote Compass is at https://votecompass.cbc.ca/alberta/.

If you want to learn more about the background of a particular candidate, either check the party website for that candidate or links provided on the https://daveberta.ca/alberta-election/ website. Finding out the candidate’s background does not tell you how they would vote on any particular bill, because in Canada MLAs mostly vote the same as their party leader does. However, a candidate’s background will help you understand what is important to them, which is useful if you want them to learn about and care about your issues. If you find a candidate who thinks your issue is important and that candidate gets elected, they may bring your issues and what you think should happen to the other members of their party and convince them to act.

Get involved to find out more

Often the party platform will not include anything on the topics that concern you most, especially early in the election cycle. Then it is important to get involved to get your issues “on the radar” and get the party to take a stand. The best way to do this is to communicate with the party leaders and candidates directly. The more the party and candidates hear an issue being raised by different people, the more they will think about it and start to have an opinion.  Voice of Albertans with Disabilities has prepared some advocacy tips for election time at https://vadsociety.ca/pdf/advocacy-tips-1551729373.pdf.

  • Ask the candidate a question by e-mail, on their Facebook page or Twitter feed. (Check the https://daveberta.ca/alberta-election/ website for candidates’ Facebook and Twitter feeds.)
  • Contact the candidate or their campaign headquarters and ask for a meeting. For tips on how to meet with a candidate, see https://vadsociety.ca/pdf/how-to-visit-a-candidate-or-an-elected-official-1551729447.pdf. Other resources to help you plan a meeting are the MLA Advocacy Guide developed by Public Interest Alberta in 2017, and How to Have a Good Meeting, part of an online workshop for self-advocates called How to Have a Say in Government developed a few years ago by the Disability Action Hall in Calgary.
  • Attend a public forum or candidate’s debate. Party websites often list upcoming events where you can meet with candidates on their website under “Events.” Listen to what the candidates say. Ask the candidate a question privately before or after the formal meeting, or ask a question during the open mic portion of the meeting if there is one.
  • When a candidate shows up at your door or calls you, be prepared to talk about your issue and experience with it and to ask your question.

ADWA has prepared a one-page handout with questions that you can use to guide your conversation with candidates. ADWA has sent this handout to the leaders of each of the Alberta parties on February 28 asking these four questions. As we hear from the parties, we will update the table that follows our handout with their answers. If you ask a candidate (or party leader) one or more of these question, please let us know what they said and we will add it to our results.

Click here to download ADWA’s candidate questions.

Party/Question

What will you do to raise the wages of skilled disability workers?

What will you do to make sure that disability workers are no longer burdened with the hidden costs of providing services (e.g., transportation, entry fees, meal costs)?

What will you do to fix the underlying causes of high burnout and turnover among disability workers? 

What will you do to make sure that disability workers are able to afford and access the education and training they need throughout their career to provide effective support to individuals with disabilities?

Alberta Advantage Party

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Alberta Liberal Party

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Alberta New Democratic Party

We are very proud of the work we have done in support of people with disabilities. From establishing Alberta’s first Disability Advocate to increasing funding for PDD and for AISH – Rachel Notley and Alberta’s NDP have been fighting for what matters to Albertans. We appreciate the extremely valuable work that support disability workers provide – often in difficult conditions – to help Albertans with disabilities live inclusive and fulfilling lives in their communities. We share your commitment to making life better for people with disabilities.

As your organization has stated, an effective disability worker must have the skills of a teacher, advocate, employment counselor, researcher, social worker, community developer and more. We understand that the work of ADWA workers has traditionally not only been underpaid and overworked, it has too often been overlooked and left out of system reviews.

We were glad to see your work recognized in the PDD Safety Standards Consultation Teams recommendations, and we know that you have provided submissions to the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities as well as to the broader PDD Review which was launched last year. We look forward to the final PDD Review and we are committed to take action on that review, including any recommendations that address working conditions for disability workers.

We are sensitive to the challenges you face – challenges which include but are not limited to compensation, training, and workplace safety. If re-elected we are committed to working together with stakeholders such as the ADWA to address working conditions in the sector and to further support quality services which promote safety and inclusion for Albertans with disabilities.

Click here to read the entire response in its original form.

Alberta Party

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Communist Party

1.  Raise the minimum wage to a living wage - this would help put upward pressure on skilled wages as well.  2.  Create public facilities and programs to provide services, which would bring workers into the unionized sector 3.  Guarantee a full time job for all graduates from nursing and allied health education

Hidden costs - unionized workers can bargain for appropriate coverage of costs, and a socialist government would not be hostile in the bargaining process.

Stress and burnout - this is one of the most important questions for those who receive the services as well as those who provide them.  Consistency of care is so important socially and psychologically!  Better wages and working conditions and mandated provincial standards for staffing levels will help to make the profession more satisfying and less stressful to the workers, and also reflect the dignity which should be acknowledged in providing the most necessary help to the most needy. 

Education and training - the Communist Party - Alberta has a program for general greater accessibility to education of all kinds,  by removing tuition fees.  Although we have not formally adopted a policy about career training in any particular career,  it would be consistent with our approach to solicit the opinions of the professionals within each profession to set standards of training, certification and upgrading, and to provide the resources for upgrading at no cost to the students.   In the long run we would improve working conditions to include training hours as paid work hours.

Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta

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Green Party of Alberta

For all of these questions, our first response is always to listen to, and take direction from, the people involved. In this case: people with disabilities, disability workers, support agencies, faculty and students in post-secondary disability programmes, and unpaid/informal caregivers (families, cohabitants).

Require in the contracts with all agencies that wages meet, at least, regionally-specific living wage rates, with annual cost-of-living increases.

In terms of workers with more experience/seniority, more skilled training, or other additional value to the work, a fair rate scale should be negotiated with the sector (the workers and agencies) and applied across the sector as minimum rates through the contracts.

Restructure and refocus the funding-governing bodies. First off, changing the evaluation measurement priority from cost saving to instead prioritizing service delivery quality and effectiveness. Also, shifting the leadership positions from political appointees to people from the disability communities.

Bring staffing levels up to what is actually needed.

A key part of addressing staffing levels is ensuring sufficient qualified workers are available. To do that, we would identify needed staffing levels throughout the province, along with retirement and other attrition rates, and rates of workers coming from out of province, and use that information to determine the number of new in-province workers needed to be trained, and ensure that we have that many post-secondary seats open. We would ensure sufficient funding to continue the remaining post-secondary disability support worker programme, and invest in developing additional (or re-developing some of the ones that have been previously cancelled) post-secondary programmes for training disability support workers.

Recognize and incorporate the need for time for tasks not involving the client, such as prep & review.

Focus on client preference in worker/agency selection, instead of competitive bidding by agencies, along with promoting long-term client-worker partnerships. Healthier relationships between clients and workers generally leads to more fulfilling working conditions.

Ensure counseling, peer, and mentor, support is built into the system and agencies so that workers aren’t left on their own to deal with the sometimes overwhelming aspects of the work.

In consultation with workers and agencies, we would determine a appropriate schedules for both “refresher” courses and further skills development for workers.

Reform Party of Alberta

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United Conservative Party

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Other websites with useful information:

The Alberta Disability Forum government relations working group, which ADWA is part of, has prepared an election tool kit with handouts related to the issues of poverty and accessibility. Visit https://vadsociety.ca/social-action/government-advocacy to see or download any of these materials.

The Alberta Council of Disability Services (ACDS) has an election website at www.ACDSAdvocacy.com. If you want to beef up your knowledge of facts and figures in the disability services sector (in case a candidate askes), check out this website.

ALIGN is an organization made up of services for children and families in Alberta. It has a political toolkit for 2019 accessed from https://www.alignab.ca/align-political-toolkit/.  

The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) has a series of blog posts called the Alberta Nonprofit Election Toolkit (https://www.calgarycvo.org/election-toolkit/) with links to resources. It points out how much the nonprofit sector contributes to the economy and society and, therefore, how much the Alberta government depends on us for its success.

The Canadian Mental Health Associaiton - Alberta has developed an election toolkit at https://alberta.cmha.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Election-Toolkit_FINAL_V6.pdf. It is 30 pages long, but has a coupe of nice key message handouts at the back.

Can I vote?

Not everyone can vote. You must be

  • A Canadian citizen
  • Have lived in Alberta for at least 6 months before the election day
  • Be at least 18 years old

Many people who can vote do not vote. Some do not vote because they do not know who to vote for. If you use the strategies listed above to become informed, that will not be a problem. Others do not vote because they are not registered or because they need help to know where and how to vote. The South Region Self-Advocacy Network (SRSAN) has developed an Alberta Elections 2019 Guide to Voting in plain language. Some information is specific to southern Alberta and some is for all of Alberta. You can click here to download it. Inclusion Lethbridge has partnered with them by making a summary of each party's platform on all issues. You can read the summary here.

If you have not voted before, you are not on the official voters list and will not get a post card in the mail telling you when and where to vote. To get on the voters list, register online at www.voterlink.ab.ca or phone them at 780-427-7191 or email info@elections.ab.ca. You only need to do this once unless you move. If you are not sure whether you are registered to vote, fill out the form at https://www.voterlink.ab.ca/vlAIR.cfm and they will tell you.

You can vote in one of three ways:

  • With everyone else at your neighbourhood polling station on election day
  • In an advance poll at a central location in your town
  • By Special Ballot mailed out to you. It must be returned before election day, so plan ahead.

Some people with disabilities find it easier to go in a group to an advance poll to vote because it is quieter and easier to get support. Also, you cannot accidentally show up at the wrong polling station with an advance poll, which is very stressful. Some people also find the special ballot option easier to use because staff or family can help them read, mark and return the ballot.

If you vote on election day (April 16) or at an advance poll (April 9 - 13), you must bring identification with you to prove that you are you. The ID can either be an Alberta driver’s license or Alberta-issued ID card. If you (or the person you support) does not have one of these IDs, you must provide 2 pieces of ID from the listing at https://www.elections.ab.ca/wp-content/uploads/Authorized-Identification-Poster.pdf.