EDMONTON, AB: A United Conservative government will honour Alberta veterans and first responders by creating a scholarship for Albertans leaving the Canadian Armed Forces, and a Heroes Fund to provide financial support to the families of fallen first responders.
The Alex Decoteau Veteran’s Scholarship will provide $5,000 scholarships to Alberta members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have served in designated military operations to help with their integration into the labour market following their military service. The scholarship would also be available to family members (spouse or children) of fallen or disabled members. It will be modelled on Saskatchewan’s Scholarship of Honour program.
The Heroes Fund will provide a one-time lump sum, tax-free payment of $100,000 to the families of first responders who have died as a result of their duties. All families eligible for the federal government’s Memorial Grant Program for First Responders would receive the benefit, meaning that they would receive a grant of $300,000 from the Government of Canada, and an additional $100,000 from the Alberta Heroes Fund.
The Heroes Fund grant would be a non-economic benefit and does not compensate families of first responders for monetary loss (income replacement) or serve as life insurance, but rather, is in recognition of their service and sacrifice. In addition to the grant, a future UCP government would work with the Government of Canada to expand access to mental health services for first responders who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their service.
The announcement was made by United Conservative MLA Tany Yao, a former paramedic. “There is no higher form of public service than to risk one’s life in the defence of our country, or in maintaining public safety,” Yao said. “Those who do so are heroes, and deserve the respect and support of their fellow Albertans. The Decoteau Scholarship and Heroes Fund are small ways that we as Albertans can recognize the service of those who risked everything for their fellow citizens.”
“When a member of the Armed Forces or first responder is killed in the line of duty, it is a devastating loss to their family and the community, and our province has a duty to help support their family,” stated MLA Jason Nixon, who joined Yao at today’s announcement.
“We entrust our lives and our loved ones to the courageous members of our Armed Forces and first responders who in turn ensure our safety and protection,” said Yao. “Alberta’s United Conservatives want to assure them, and their families that we recognize and value the important work they do and the sacrifices they make in protecting our communities and keeping us safe.”
The veterans scholarship will be named after Alex Decoteau, an Olympic athlete and Canada’s first Aboriginal police officer who joined the Edmonton police force in 1909 and died from a sniper’s bullet on October 30, 1917 while serving in the Canadian Army in France during the First World War. The Heroes Fund will be modelled on the federal Memorial Grant Program for First Responders. The UCP estimates that the incremental annual cost of today’s announcements will be $4 million.
United Conservatives recognize and express our gratitude to our armed forces and first responders who protect us and keep us safe.
When a first responder or member of the armed forces is killed in the line of duty, it is a devastating loss to their family and to the community. To make matters worse, often loved ones left behind worry about how to make ends meet. If a first responder or veteran pays the ultimate price while protecting their fellow Albertans, the province has a duty to help support their family.
The federal program provides a maximum $300,000 lump sum, tax free benefit to an immediate family member of a police officer, firefighter, or paramedic who died as a result of performing their duties, including death by suicide.
A United Conservative government will provide a $100,000 top-up for Alberta families eligible under the federal program. The program will have an estimated annual cost of $1.5 million, based on federal projections.
A UCP government will also work with the Government of Canada to improve services for first responders who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their service. We will allocate an incremental $1.5 million annually to these efforts, in addition to current funding available, and additional federal funding announced.
Based on Public Safety Canada projections, it is estimated that 9 Alberta families would qualify for support from the Heroes Fund annually.
Alex Decoteau, Canada’s first Aboriginal police officer, joined the Edmonton Police Service in 1909. He was an accomplished competitive runner who represented Canada at the 1916 Olympic Games. He went on to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and was killed by a sniper’s bullet on October 30th, 1917, during the Battle of Passchendaele.[iii]
The program would provide $5,000 scholarships to members of the Canadian Armed Forces from Alberta who have served in designated military operations. The scholarship would also be available to immediate family members of fallen or disabled members. The program is modelled on the Saskatchewan Scholarship of Honour. It is estimated that the annual incremental cost would be $1 million.
The scholarship will assist with the veterans who seek supplementary education or training for integration into the labour market following their military service.
The total estimated annual cost of these programs is $4 million.