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Funding available for support organizations

Westlock FCSS also re-starts income tax program
westlock fcss

WESTLOCK – Local organizations that offer support to vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic are eligible for government funding filtered through Family and Community Support Services.

In total, the FCSS Association of Alberta — not including Edmonton and Calgary — has access to $14 million to distribute to services that support seniors, those with chronic medical conditions, families at home with children and caregivers directly affected by COVID-19.

The Westlock & District FCSS has received two applications by April 1 from local service-providers. They remain unnamed until the funding is determined.

“We kind of vet them and determine whether or not they’re appropriate for the funding. It has to be specifically people who are somehow impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and it has to target the community as a whole,” said Westlock director Tracy Proulx.

The local FCSS acts as an aggregator of applications, she clarified, which then get passed on to the provincial government for the final decision.

“Our understanding is that there’s no set amount. The agencies can ask for whatever they think is appropriate to offer the programming.”

Plans at FCSS include a survey of the community to determine what the necessary services are in the area and apply directly for that available provincial funding in order to cover the vulnerable spaces that other organizations can’t.

“We’re thinking things like helping seniors, or low-income families or individuals that are coping with chronic illness, maybe delivering groceries for free, or delivering their prescriptions to them, offering some online or over the phone counselling,” said Proulx.

Some programming at FCSS, like home support for seniors, has been put on hold due to the pandemic and the funding can be redirected to cover those gaps before applying for additional provincial aid.

Income tax program

FCSS re-instituted the income tax program April 1, with additional protections for staff and community members who are reliant on the program’s continuity to access benefits.

“Although the tax deadline to file your taxes has been extended from April 30 to June 1, they have not extended the deadline for subsidies. If you don’t apply by April 30, you could potentially still be cut off,” said Proulx.

This includes Alberta Seniors Benefits, the child tax credit, or public sector pensions.

“Any information that came out from (the Canadian Revenue Agency) would say ‘Yes, tax deadline is extended however, if you rely on these subsidies, please submit on time.’ That meant there’s a huge gap, we can’t not deliver the service,” said Proulx.

The precautions in place include a screen between the program coordinator and community members, a four-day quarantine period for the documents, and a full disinfection of the area between each client.

Applications can be dropped off by appointment only so FCSS can stagger the clients.

“It’s going to be a slower process. We’re hoping to be able to see 24 people a day. We know we have potentially 300 to 400 more to do,” explained Proulx.

All four income tax volunteers are participating.

The service was initially suspended March 16, when the Town of Westlock announced an immediate closure of all services, including the town office, the Rotary Spirit Centre and the Aquatic Centre.

“Typically, we do 700 income taxes a year. Up until the point of closing our doors, we only completed 300 so we knew there was still a huge need.”

Andreea Resmerita,
Follow me on Twitter @andreea_res

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