July 16th, 2019- Calgary City Council to Make Life and Death Decisions on July 22
Mental health and addiction strategy and low-income transit pass, used by 60,000 Calgarians on the line.
Calgary, AB. - On July 22, City Council will decide what programs to defund, as part of their effort to cut $60 million from the City budget.
The Calgary Alliance for the Common Good and more than a dozen other organizations are asking Council to continue funding two vital programs that serve the most vulnerable Calgarians - mental health and addiction strategy, and the subsidized transit pass program.
"Budget decisions made by City Council this month will have a direct and long- lasting impact on the lives of vulnerable Calgarians," says Reverend Anna Lee-Greenwood, Co-chair of the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good. "In the midst of an opioid epidemic and the financial downturn, the mental health and addiction strategy and the transit pass subsidy are literal lifelines for tens of thousands of people."
More than half of the City's operating budget is spent on services that overlap with, and are affected by, individuals dealing with mental health and addiction. Front line services, first responders, and the city's social programs confront mental health and addiction issues everyday and are being stretched to their limit already.
"Apart from the economic costs of mental health and addiction - we are in the midst of an opioid crisis that claims, on average, the lives of six Calgarians a week due to opioid overdoses," says Reverend Greenwood-Lee. "It would be devastating, and irresponsible to lose funding for the mental health and addiction strategy that helps address these issues."
Currently the subsidized transit pass program, which sets purchase price based on income, allows 60,000 Calgarians to afford transit passes. This subsidy includes Calgary seniors and low-income individuals.
"Without the subsidized transit pass program many Calgarians wouldn't be able to afford to get to their jobs, their medical appointments, take their children to school and it would have harmful consequences on their daily lives."
This week the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good and partner organizations are asking their 30,000 plus members to email the Mayor and City Council urging them to continue funding both the subsidized transit pass program and the mental health and addiction strategy.