Fairest of them all

Calgary improves access for all on three fronts

Is Calgary fair? Fairer in 2013 than 2012? Yes. The City of Calgary Fair Calgary policy issued its second annual update to council on December 16. Good news: three major advancements were made through the policy’s affiliated programs to ensure all Calgarians have equal access to city services.

So far 1153 youth have been approved for the low-income transit pass pilot demanded by Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart. In January 2013 the city raised the maximum income an individual must earn in order to access its low-income services to 87.5 per cent of the Low-Income-Cutoff (LICO) which is based on region and the number of family members. That maximum will be raised again in 2014 to 100 per cent of the LICO. That means an estimated 22500 Calgarians will be poverty-stricken enough to be eligible for subsidized programs such as reduced-rate transit passes and Calgary recreation facility entry.

Finally the city has also taken the advice of the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative and begun work on creating a single-entry application for low-income programs.

“Having to prove one’s low-income status multiple times across multiple programs and multiple locations is an undignified process for the customer” states the Fair Calgary report. “A single-entry system will result in more effective and efficient assessment of eligibility to the various programs and will reflect a citizen-centric approach to customer service.”

Of the estimated 118000 low-income Calgarians 45000 used at least one of the city’s subsidized programs in 2012. The Fair Calgary report says improvements to the system will hopefully make learning about and accessing these services much easier for all who are eligible.