Thursday , 29 July 2021
Bonnyville and District FCSS.

Boundaries and money uncertain for Bonnyville FCSS to deliver new Family Resource Network services

Bonnyville and District FCSS’ Parent and Child Centre which houses the Family Resource Network.

Bonnyville could become a hub for the Family Resource Network support services in the region starting in 2020, but there are many hoops left to jump through and uncertainty on what programs they’ll offer until they talk financials with the province.

Family and Community Social Services agencies across the province are preparing to submit Expressions of Interest to the Alberta Government on what services they can offer beyond March 31.

The competitive EOIs are due January 16 where communities will bid on contracts from a pool of $65 million instead of the previous $77 million from the Ministry of Children’s Services.

Bonnyville will apply to become a hub for these “spokes” communities, which would coordinate how services are delivered.

Although, there is head-scratching going about the new zones and financial support they’ll receive.

“The fancy term for the geography is wonky,” said David Beale, Bonnyville and District FCSS director.

Bonnyville is part of a new community services zone that includes the M.D. of Bonnyville, St. Paul, County of St. Paul, Elk Point and Vilna.

Excluded is a usual partner in Cold Lake, which has been grouped with northern communities Lac La Biche and Athabasca.

Many of these communities are asking for a boundary change within their EOIs to align closer with their neighbours, which puts more uncertainty on the January 16th deadline and what the Bonnyville FCSS is applying for.

“With our planning cycle, we kind of need to know real soon what the area will be,” said Beale.

“Our position is, yes, we are wide open to negotiating boundary changes because when we look at the boundaries, they don’t make a lot of sense to us. However, given that the answer to the question can you change my boundary and when will I know you’ve changed it – is a big unknown. It’s basically send us your request and we’ll get back to you.”

The Parent Link Centre is one of the biggest systems being slashed along with the early childhood coalition, Indigenous enhancement grant, said Beale, in which $270,000 in early childhood programs were cancelled in Bonnyville.

The FCSS staff will try to come up with a budget to deliver some of these services through the Alberta Purchasing Connection, most commonly used for road and infrastructure construction projects.

The province is slated to decide on Feb. 14 the hub communities and negotiate the services and budget.

On April 1, the new system will be in effect.

Beale said they will not leave parents and families high and dry and will maintain the services they can.

The uncertainty though is clear.

“How do I write a budget when I don’t know what you’re at the end of the day going to ask? How do I write a budget when I don’t know what my boundaries may be?” said Beale.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.