AFBNA
Major Food Banks in Alberta

Alberta’s Economy Affected Deeply by the COVID-19 Health Crisis

Alberta’s unemployment rate reached 9.5 percent in March, and analysts warn about a forthcoming deep recession. The main reason for this is the drop in oil prices which plummeted below the $10 mark. Reduced oil demand due to the decline in global travel and demand for goods and slow global growth explain why oil prices went down. Alberta’s economy has also been affected by the closure of local businesses, bars, bingo halls, casinos, and other recreational facilities and shutdowns of educational institutions.

Figures

According to an economics forecast by TD Bank, Alberta is to face a recession worse than in 2015. The budget is expected to shrink between $5 and $5.5 billion, resulting in a $12 billion deficit target. Forecasts predict a deficit of $6.8 billion due to increased health spending and drop in oil prices. When it comes to unemployment, Jason Kenney warned that the unemployment rate could skyrocket to whooping 25 percent during the coronavirus outbreak. This means that some 500,000 workers will lose their jobs. While healthcare facilities in the province have the capacity to treat coronavirus patients, the economy will be hard hit. Kenney also warned that Alberta is to face the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Government Measures

As the number of cases reached 119 in mid-March, the government implemented measures to help people facing financial hardship. All persons who are forced to stay home and satisfy the criteria for self-isolation are eligible to receive aid of $573 a week. Other measures include loan payment deferral, utility bill payment deferral, and extension of tax deadlines. The deferral of utility bill payments also applies to small and residential businesses and farms. Corporate income tax payments will be deferred until August, 31. The aid offered by the Alberta’s government is in addition to the federal package covering tax and spending deferrals. The federal government extended $3.8 billion in aid to non-for-profits, charities, and small businesses. Alberta also increased GST tax credits for people in the middle- and low-income bracket and the Canada Child Benefit for families with children. Student loan payments have been deferred for a period of six months. People who do not qualify for unemployment insurance are offered emergency benefits.

In a televised address, Kenney announced that the measures are unlikely to be lifted before the end of May. He also stated that the government would focus on infrastructure projects that would create new jobs. Some political analysts pointed, however, that Kenney’s comments were more general and lacking specifics. One political scientist expressed the view that a provincial sales tax would help the government to generate more revenue. Associate professor at MacEwan University Chaldeans Mensah noted that revenue was unstable due to the significant decline in gas and oil prices. Duane Bratt, Political Science Professor at the Mount Royal University also noted that the public address was lacking specifics on measures toward economic recovery. In his view, fiscal conservatism is not a good strategy, and a provincial sales tax should be implemented to increase revenue. A spokesperson for the Premier, however, announced that his stance on the implementation of a provincial sales tax has not changed.

If you are experiencing financial hardship please check top 6 secured credit cards for Canadians. You can also see tips on surviving the economic and financial impact of Covid-19 at Life on credit.

Food Banks in Alberta

Food banks are charities that distribute food to those in need, including low-income families and persons locked into poverty. Major food banks in Alberta such as the Calgary, Airdrie, and Edmonton’s Food Banks donate food to help prevent hunger.

Edmonton’s Food Bank

Founded back in 1981, this charity is the first food bank to open doors in Canada, offering services and food to low-income individuals. The bank collects products such as dairies, vegetables, fruits, pastries, and bread, donated by warehouses, food manufacturers, and grocery stores. Each month the bank distributes some 500,000 snacks and meals, amounting to 4 million kg a year. The bank maintains 61 food depots and serves over 20,000 people on a monthly basis. The charity also organizes fundraising events to raise money and food, major events being the Coliseum Drift Showdown, Walmart Fight Hunger Spark Change, and Loblaw Food Drive. The Coliseum Drift Showdown is a drifting car show and a major event to raise money and food. The show also features live performances, food trucks, and vendors. Walmart Fight Hunger Spark Change is another initiative to raise funds and food, asking customers to donate non-perishable food at in-store locations or donate money online. The Loblaw Food Drive also raises funds and collects non-perishable food at City Market, Real Canadian Wholesale Clubs, No Frills, and Superstores.

Calgary Food Bank

This food bank was founded in 1982 to collect and distribute food to those in need. The charity supports organizations, families, and individuals and runs a range of programs such as the Food Link Program, Emergency Food Hampers, Food Movement, and Hampers for the Homeless. The Food Link Program was established to deliver supplies and food to organizations involved in program development. As of 2018, the program distributed about 2.5 million pounds of food to 233 partners. Weekends and More is another program that aims to distribute food hampers to students and thus fight food insecurity. The Calgary Food Bank acknowledges that chronic hunger is associated with depression, nutritional deficiencies, chronic health conditions, poor grades, and attention problems. Offering nutritional food to students helps improve their health, social interactions, and academic performance. The Welcome Home Program focuses on homeless individuals moving into a new home and offers hygiene and cleaning supplies and pantry essentials.

The bank welcomes donations in the form of food and money. Individuals and companies can also donate cars or planned or monthly gifts or they can host an event. Canned food can be donated, including protein-rich foods such as beans, tuna, chicken, turkey, and ham, as well as grains such as cereal, rice, and macaroni and cheese. The bank also accepts canned fruits and vegetables, including peaches, pears, green beans, and carrots. Other items to donate include peanut butter, juice, and pasta sauce. The food bank does not accept homemade food, open and broken packages, supplements, and out of date items. In addition to food, donors can supply hygiene items such as deodorants, hand soaps, conditioner, and shampoo. Baby items are also needed, including diapers, infant formula, and baby food.

Airdrie Food Bank

Another bank in Alberta, Airdrie helps ensure that children have nutritious food at school. The charity runs school and hamper programs, among which Milk for New Moms, Bread and Extras, Snack Attack, and Fuel 4 Kids. Bread and Extras is a hamper program that supplies food to persons in need while Milk for New Moms is open to moms that need milk while breastfeeding. The program is run in cooperation with the Alberta Health Services. Other programs offered by the Airdrie Food Bank include Formula Hampers, Best Beginnings Hamper, and the R.J. Hawkey Breakfast Program. The charity accepts donations in drop boxes placed at Walmart, No Frills, Co-op. Safeway, and other chain stores. Donations by debit or credit card can be made at the bank’s office or sent by mail or online.