Faced with rising concern over the growth of Alberta’s homeless population, Premier Ed Stelmach committed his government Monday to developing a 10-year strategy to end homelessness.
In an announcement lauded by advocates for the homeless — but blasted by critics for lacking detail — Stelmach said the province will create an Alberta Secretariat for Action on Homelessness, which will co-ordinate efforts to address the deepening social problem.
“Our goal is to eliminate (homelessness),” Stelmach told reporters in Calgary.
“I know it’s a huge goal, an ambitious goal, but let’s set a goal and work towards it as a team, and that includes municipal government, all of our agencies and the provincial government.”
Calgary MLA Yvonne Fritz, minister responsible for Affordable Housing and Urban Development, will lead the organization. She said the Treasury Board has been asked for more than $100 million in new money for the program.
She said that amount could be allotted annually for 10 years, for a total of more than $1 billion.
The premier’s vow sees him join a growing list of Alberta mayors and U.S. leaders who have also promised to end homelessness in a decade.
But critics quickly cast doubt on the government’s commitment to carry through and address the issue.
“All we’re talking about here is setting up a secretariat to co-ordinate best practices and plans and so on and so forth,” said Liberal housing critic Dave Taylor.