|Minister of Transportation of Alberta|
|Assumed office |
July 8, 2021
|Preceded by||Ric McIver|
|Minister of Community and Social Services of Alberta|
April 30, 2019 – July 8, 2021
|Preceded by||Irfan Sabir|
|Succeeded by||Jason Luan|
|Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary-North East|
|Assumed office |
April 16, 2019
|Preceded by||new district|
|Born||1970 or 1971 (age 51–52)|
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
|Political party||United Conservative Party|
Rajan Sawhney is a Canadian politician who was elected in the 2019 Alberta general election to represent the electoral district of Calgary-North East in the 30th Alberta Legislature. She is a member of the United Conservative Party. On April 30, 2019, she was appointed to be the Minister of Community & Social Services in the Executive Council of Alberta. On July 8, 2021, she was shuffled into the Minister of Transportation.
|2019 Alberta general election: Calgary-North East|
|United Conservative||Rajan Sawhney||8,376||49.3%||-3.14|
|New Democratic||Gurbachan Brar||6,046||35.6%||-2.75|
|Alberta Party||Nate Pike||1,791||10.6%||-|
|Total valid votes||16,974|
|Rejected, spoiled, and declined||105|
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, on June 10, 2020, it was announced to families and care providers at these 24-hour Direct Operations programs—Residential Support Services (RSS) for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) in Edmonton, Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) in Edmonton, and Graduated Supports Services (GSS) for PDD in Calgary—that CSS was exploring alternative service delivery models, transitioning from Government Direct Operations to Contracted Service Providers. This included Scenic Bow Place, with its Scenic Bow group homes, included GSS assisted-living facility—a long-term residence for approximately 200 developmentally challenged residents, with a staff of 300 staff. According to a July 25, 2020 Calgary Herald article, PDD guardians and care givers attempted to submit a petition signed by 3,000 to Sawhney's Calgary office regarding privatization fears. According to a July 2020 CSS statement, the alternative service affects how services are delivered, not who will pay for them. The government will continue to pay for them but they will be contracted to "community-based organizations" that already provide 99% of residential and personal care services in Alberta. On July 17, 2020, CSS published a Request for Information (RFI) what is "currently available in the marketplace" as "alternative delivery model" for 24-hour Direct Operations programs in the Calgary and Edmonton regions, which could include "transitioning of residential and direct client services to contracted service providers". If all the facilities concerned are privatized, the government will save e C$3.48 million.
In 2019, the UCP government conducted several forums on public policies relevant to persons with developmental disabilities. The New Democratic Party had raised concerns about "underfunding, low staff pay and shortages of training and affordable housing."
Main article: Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped
Sawhney was Minister of Community and Social Services (CSS) when the unpopular October 24, 2019 provincial budget decision to de-index the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) benefit from the Consumer Price Index, was announced. The UCP policy means that the maximum AISH rate for a single person will remain at C$1,685 per month and will not increase with the inflationary cost of living until at least 2023. The budget decision reverts the 2018 Bill 26: An Act to Combat Poverty and Fight for Albertans with Disabilities, enacted by the previous provincial New Democratic Party government. The budget included both generous decrease in corporate tax rates and deep cuts to health and education program budgets as part of the UCP 2019 election campaign commitment to balance the budget by 2021. In the fall of 2020, Sawhney's AISH portfolio attracted media attention as AISH was again under consideration for further cuts. In response to a Postmedia report revealing that the CSS was reviewing AISH and potentially making cuts, On September 14, Sawhney dismissed concerns saying, "Let me state definitively that there will be no cuts to AISH financial benefits." On September 15, Premier Kenney said that the UCP was examining "eligibility criteria" for AISH benefits in order to cut provincial government costs. AISH attracted media attention again in early October as AISH benefits cheques were late due to a banking technical problem.
The UCP government announced $25 million in March and another $48 million in early August to help community organizations that work on homelessness by providing shelters and support for homeless people during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CSS said in September that there was enough capacity for emergency shelters in Calgary. Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness's CEO, Tim Richter, told the Canadian Press, that normally winter emergency response planning is done in the summer. Concerns were raised that these plans had not been made by September, and the funding had not been allocated.
Sawhney told the CP that she was working with her counterpart in the UCP cabinet—Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon—to address the "very dire need" for "permanent supportive housing in Alberta." In his response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's September 23, 2020 speech from the throne at the opening the 43rd Canadian Parliament, in which the federal government "focussed on entirely eliminating chronic homelessness in Canada", Calgary mayor, Naheed Nenshi, said that the federal commitment to end homelessness could result in Calgary ending homelessness in two years, if the municipal, provincial, and federal governments work together.