Government cuts size of grants available to religious, cultural groups for security upgrades, but makes program retroactive

The Alberta government is now reimbursing organizations who enhanced their security strategy in response to hate-motivated attacks before the province began providing money to do so. 

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro announced the change, retroactive to June 1, 2021, on Wednesday during a news conference at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Edmonton. 

As well, he revealed the government was reducing the amount of funding that was available to applicants for implementing a professional security risk management plan and eliminating application deadlines. 

When the program was launched in June 2021, up to $10,000 was available for security assessments and up to $90,000 was available to purchase and install security equipment and retain security training. 

Now, the second stream will provide grants up to $35,000. 

The same amounts are available for reimbursement, plus $10,000 for action taken in response to a high-risk hate-motivated incident that was reported to police. 

Applications will be accepted year round, or until funding runs out. 

“These changes will make it possible to help more organizations and more people than ever before,” Shandro commented. 

According to the minister, roughly 110 applicants have already been awarded a total of $1.2 million and applications continue to come in. 

“We’ve taken these steps because unfortunately, we continue to see evidence that they’re needed here in Alberta. Just last month, during the holy time of Ramadan, no less, two Edmonton mosques were sent threatening packages intended to spread fear and intimidation,” Shandro told reporters. “This is unacceptable and it has no place in our province.”

In both incidents, packages of white powder that were opened by employees were found to be innocuous.

The Alberta Security Infrastructure Program was expanded in March so that $5 million was available annually, up from $2 million. 

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