EDMONTON – The government will spend slightly more than $1 million to open three new Parent Link Centres in three communities, including Edmonton, Minister of Human Services Heather Klimchuk said during a news conference Friday at the Norwood Child and Family Resource Centre.

Klimchuk and Premier Jim Prentice visited the centre at 9516 114thj Ave., which serves more than 600 families through numerous programs, including early childhood development programs, fathers’ groups, financial literacy, home visits and other family supports.

The Norwood Child and Family Resource Centre will run the Parent Link Centre that opens in Edmonton’s core this fall. Centres will also open in Innisfail and Sylvan Lake, Klimchuk said. They offer important support for families, she said.

“Some parents feel isolated. They need to reach out. They need to talk to another parent about what’s happening and to make sure their children are raised in a positive, loving environment, and sometimes you don’t know where to turn to,” Klimchuk said.

“The premier and my colleagues and I are so committed to supporting early childhood development, and Parent Link Centres are such an important part.”

Mom of six Bobbi Felzien is currently living in a hotel and makes daily visits with her children to the Norwood Child and Family Resource Centre. Her kids are in some of the centre’s early learning programs. Felzien has access to the centre’s phone and computer. Norwood staff is helping her family find housing after a six-month struggle.

“They’re like a family and that’s what some people need,” said Felzien, 34, whose children range in age from five months to 15 years old. “All the resources here are amazing.”

During the news conference, Prentice also outlined plans to introduce a new refundable tax credit starting July 1, 2016, which is called the Alberta Working Family Supplement and was announced in Thursday’s provincial budget. He also touted enhancements to the existing Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit, which also kick in July 1, 2016.

“Taken together, these two programs are among the most generous in Canada, relative to families, working families, who are struggling to make ends meet,” Prentice said.

John Kolkman, research co-ordinator with the Edmonton Social Planning Council, said after the news conference those tax benefits will help low-income families, but should come into effect more quickly.

Also, the supports will go to working families, but not to people who receive supports such as Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped who perhaps can’t work, Kolkman said. “We’ve been pushing for a child tax benefit that did not discriminate based on source of income, similar to federal child tax benefits.”

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