Friday, July 31, 2015

Fwd: re: Input on Budget 2015 & Budget 2016

Our submission to the Alberta Government's request for input for budget 2015 and budget 2016

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: re: Input on Budget 2015 & Budget 2016
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:55:14 -0600
From: Paul Siller 

Community Transportation is a key element of Alberta's "aging in place" strategy however the province invests zero dollars to facillitate the effort.

85 communities across Alberta are involved in some sort of community transit/ special needs transportation effort to assist Albertans. A $5 per capita grant specifically tied to community transit could help these communities do more for Alberta Health and Alberta Human Services program. We find that $1 spent on  community transit in rural/ smalltown Alberta is facilitating government savings of $13.50.

Ten Alberta communities are members of the Canadian Urban Transit Association.  Their 2013 statistics report $69 million spent on accessible specialized transportation in Alberta. A $13 rate of return suggests that these communities (some of Alberta's largest) facilitated roughly $900 million dollars of savings towards Alberta's care of ill and disabled citizens.

Imagine what 85 communities could do to assist Alberta Health and Alberta Human resources if $25 million could be allocated in support. Rural health transportation could be improved giving better access to medical service (and freeing up ambulances for urgent events). Seniors could stay in their home longer before moving to a care centre. More could handle their medical problems on an outpatient basis. Albertans with disabilities could attend more programs in smaller communities  -- closer to home.

Those are the usual benefits of community transportation but we have two other considerations;

Cost for special needs transportation frequently exceeds Alberta Learning's allocation. Approx $6,000 / kid  must be diverted from other budgets such as classroom instruction. Small communities could foster education transportation at a lower cost. Funds diverted from classroom funding to special needs transportation would reduced if communities had support to provide more service.

Finally, rural transportation  between municipalities could be improved.  Alberta is re-examining support for intraprovincial coach-line lines. The people most impacted by  coach-line deregulation are the folks facing disability (age, physical, medical) and/ or low-income issues. These are the same people currently requesting community transportation services across Alberta.  Would coach-lines have equipment available to assist mobility impaired Albertan under this subsidy?  Would it be easier to ask a provincially supported community bus to broaden service policy and include low-income Albertans to achieve the same results?

Minister Ceci has witnessed the ROI achieved by Alberta's FCSS funding  program.  Introduction of a PTOAG-like program will also create a very beneficial ROI  - especially in Rural/small town Alberta.

A $5 per capita grant for municipalities to foster community transit / special needs transit will benefit some 330,000 Alberta families. This would provide cross ministry assistance for Alberta Health, Alberta Human Services, Alberta Learning and Alberta Transportation to deliver their mandates.

I feel that a simple community transit grant program for municipalities would be money well-spent on the Alberta budget.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Transportation issues identified in Alberta rural Health Care review echo local reality

A surprising amount of attention paid to rural transportation issues in yesterday's Rural Health Care Review"

Several aspects of transportation were mentioned: the scarcity of resources, the high cost to passengers interfering with long-term therapies such as dialysis  and the challenge of using Ambulances for non-emergency transportation (especially when there are few other transportation options).

The final report notes that community transportation is not part of the review's mandate but listed amongst the recommendations: "Examine various models in use for publicly accessible transportation and consider support for regional or community-based public transportation systems."

It would have been a great opportunity to have contributed to the discussion. Unfortunately, the review panel seems to have focused on smaller communities and passed over most of the communities served by Rocky View Regional Handibus (maybe this region isn't "rural enough").

Sadly, I doubt that one or two little recommendations will be acted, but it is nice to have transportation identified as a rural health issue.