Dean's Platform

Calgary Community Social Services (CCSS)

Many years ago, during 30 years of military service, I witnessed absolute helplessness and desperation on the faces of people living in poverty brought upon by the ravages of war. I hoped never to witness poverty again once I left military service.  

Over a decade ago when I emigrated to Canada I began volunteering in various communities in our city, you can imagine my disappointment and sorrow to again see family’s attempting to survive while living below the poverty line with thousands of children unable to have a school lunch due to lack of family funds. How could this be happening in such a modern city?

What is happening?

As a result of the census data in 2006 “Community and Neighbourhood Services” published a document on the racialization of poverty in our city. The document explored the growing rates of poverty experienced by racialized (both visible minority and Aboriginal) populations in Calgary. The downloadable document can still be found on the city website. I’d recommend it as a good read. My question would be what has our present council done to improve the situation detailed in 2006? My thoughts are that many charities have been doing the work which the city council should have been addressing over the last decade, rather than focusing on buildings and infrastructure projects. When a city’s leaders think more of expansion and growth than it does of its human population, then something has to change. In the last 12 months 77,000 citizens have slipped below the poverty line due largely to unemployment, according to the organisation called Vibrant Communities Calgary and the charity Enough For All. This is what happens when we have politicians and businessmen in positions of leadership, they do not focus on the human factor. This needs to change now and only you, the voter, can make this happen.

This council should have dedicated funds to boost the development of charities that are proactively targeting poverty & homelessness. They should have developed employment programs for families finding it hard to find jobs, they should have brought charities together under one banner to do better things in our city. 

Collaboration and communication of support services should have been one of the major focuses of our council. This has not happened and so we have growing poverty in communities with no real major support structure and no light at the end of the tunnel. I have seen lack of hope in the eyes of people in many of our communities.

What should be happening?

How are we going to make that happen?

As your Mayor I would advise and guide our council to establish a new city department that will unite each of our wards organisations and charities to work together and to give citizens who are having challenges financially or difficulty navigating the avenues of life access to quality advice, support and opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty.

This department Calgary Community Social Services (CCSS).would have two functions, it would be an information/guidance service and a Job centre. The department would be structured with 14 Information and advisory teams and one job center with a number of employment consultants. 

Some teams would be larger than others depending upon the case load, recorded level of poverty and social issues. Case workers would be expected to visit community associations, people and families throughout our city to offer them guidance and advice in regards to information about:-

Food procurement, assistance vouchers, housing assistance and advice, clothing assistance vouchers, heath care assistance, counselling and mediation, transportation transit passes, job centre initiative (Finding and procuring employment), drug and alcohol rehab initiatives, emergency housing assistance, translator services and advice, child care assistance information and support, community training employment initiatives, community social events and services and much more.

The job center department of CCSS would allow individuals an opportunity to book sessions with an employment consultant. The consultant’s role would be to give guidance on how to obtain employment, taking into consideration a person’s skills, work experience and qualifications. 

The consultant would help the individual create a job profile and make a resume, also assist in the job search process, facilitate/arrange the interview in collaboration with business and this service could be utilized by high schools if requested.

Having a person visit community associations and share information and advice to citizens, new comers, or people in need and being able to offer a total support package will enable people to move forward with their lives with less stress which is crucial to combating poverty and other social issues. 

I am aware that there are wonderful charities all over our city providing lots of help, but what we do not have is a dedicated organization to unite all these groups and point our citizens in the right direction.

Collaboration is paramount to the success of this department. Getting good advice and information to resolve social issues at present is virtually impossible for some citizens. Should this initiative become a reality then a citizen would only need to contact their ward CCSS for advice and information.