Alberta Budget 2019: UCP earmarks money for First Responders and Heroes Fund

The Alberta government is promising $9 million over three years to implement a fund to help families of first responders who die as a result of their job.

While the provincial budget reduces overall spending in the Labour ministry (from $219 million in 2019 to $206 million by 2022-23), it sets aside money for the First Responders and Heroes Fund.

The budget allocates $9 million over three years beginning in 2020-21 to implement the fund, starting in April 2020. For the 2020-21 fiscal year, $1.5 million has been set aside.

The Heroes Fund will provide a one-time, tax-free $100,000 payment to eligible families. First responders include firefighters, police officers, paramedics, sheriffs and correctional officers.

“There is no higher form of public service than to risk one’s life to maintain public safety,” Labour and Immigration Minister Jason Copping said.

“Albertans who do so are heroes and deserve our respect and support. We are honouring their noble service with improved benefits for their families.”

The government said Alberta is the only province with a grant program for families of fallen first responders.

The Heroes Fund payments are separate from regular workers’ compensation fatality benefits, the government said in a news release Wednesday.

The budget also commits $1.5 million per year for three years to “improve services for first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, starting in 2020-21.”

While the details of that aspect of the budget were not released, the government said they would be developed “over the coming months.”

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