Nonprofit groups urge children’s table in Edmonton City relations to be promoted at Monday night mayoral candidate forum

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Mayoral candidates presented their ideas for including nonprofits in the city’s COVID-19 recovery to ensure they no longer feel like they are left sitting at the table. children.

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The Edmonton House of Voluntary Organizations hosted a virtual forum Monday night with seven mayoral candidates to discuss the need for the sector to participate in pandemic recovery so the most vulnerable are not left behind. There are over 6,000 non-profit organizations in Edmonton, ranging from social agencies to arts organizations and advocacy groups.

In a question to candidates, moderator Serena Mah said many charities feel they have been treated like a second fiddle to business by city council and are asking to be “invited to the adult table where decisions are made. are actually taken “.

All of the candidates present said they would listen more to the voice of nonprofits, mainly through increased engagement and frequent meetings.

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Amarjeet Sohi said one of his top priorities is creating a Mayor’s Advisory Council on Business Growth, which would include the voluntary sector to ensure their views are heard. Michael Oshry is committed to holding roundtables with nonprofits to improve relations with the city and Diana Steele said for her, the relationship with nonprofits has never faltered as she is involved with them for many years, currently working with a group charity and as president of the Crestwood Community League.

“This is my wheelhouse, I’ve been a regular volunteer since I was a kid,” Steele said. “In fact, I don’t need to be convinced to make nonprofit a priority. You are already my priority.

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But it is not only an action that the voluntary sector is asking of the city council, but also a plea with the provincial government for more support for the elderly and homeless people in the city. The province’s ongoing review of the Family and Community Support Services (FSSS) program, which provides funding to community groups, with 80 percent support from the provincial government and 20 percent from municipalities, is also a major objective.

Volunteer groups have said it is essential that the next lawyer on the province’s council continue to fund the program at its current levels, which candidate Kim Krushell said is “absolutely critical.”

“It makes a significant difference for a number of organizations that are on the front lines and working to help many different people, from homeless people to cultural organizations,” she said.

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Cheryll Watson said that a stronger partnership with the province is a top priority for her in general and that it will include advocacy for this funding to continue as it is the primary means of providing the necessary support to these organizations. .

Rick Comrie calls for more funding for community groups rather than large infrastructure projects to improve community well-being. Candidate Brian “Breezy” Gregg said social issues and supporting the city’s most vulnerable needs should be the top priority.

Candidates Mike Nickel, Augustine Marah, Venessa Denman and Malik Chukwudi did not attend the forum.

The Monday night forum took place the same day advance polls opened in Edmonton at 12 polling stations. Edmontonians showed up in droves when venues opened at 1 p.m., with long wait times at all venues, including up to 95 minutes in the sipiwiyniwak neighborhood in west Edmonton.

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Edmonton election spokeswoman Suzzette Mellado said reserve workers have been deployed to busy polling stations in the first two hours of Monday due to high turnout and the team will continue monitor wait times and make improvements where possible.

“Longer queues and waiting times are to be expected given our current security measures,” Mellado said in a statement to Postmedia. “The queues have been moved outside to allow physical distancing. “

Residents can check the estimated wait times for polling stations on the city’s website. Advance polls are open October 4 to 13, including Thanksgiving Monday, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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