Alberta Budget increases funding to protect houses of worship

Thai Nguyen, Calgary Vietnamese Alliance Church pastor. (Screenshot photo)

(AJNews) – Premier Jason Kenney recently announced that Alberta Budget 2022 more than doubles the funding available to protect houses of worship and cultural centres in the province including churches, mosques, synagogues, community centres, private schools that serve ethnic populations, cemeteries and friendship centres.

“While it saddens me that many religious and ethnic organizations and Indigenous groups need this protection, I am proud of this government’s commitment to helping keep them safe,” stated Premier Kenney at a press conference that took place March 13, at the Calgary Vietnamese Alliance Church.  “Our province continues to stand against hate and violence, and alongside those targeted by these terrible crimes.”

Funding for the Alberta Security Infrastructure Program has increased from $2 million to $5 million annually. This funding will support places of worship, not-for-profit agencies, registered charities, and other organizations or identified groups at risk of being targeted by hate crimes or incidents.

“When Albertans targeted by hate-motivated crimes ask for help, we listen and take action,” remarked Tyler Shandro, Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. “As we increase this funding, we continue to work with vulnerable groups to fight hate crime and provide all Albertans with the best opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential.”

The groups can apply for grants for security and technology improvements. Funding for upgrades to facility infrastructure, including security and monitoring systems, helps protect individuals and property from vandalism and other criminal acts. Launched last summer, the program is flexible enough to address a range of protective measures, such as security planning, education and training.

“The Paperny Family Jewish Community Centre has served as the ‘living room’ of our community in Calgary for 42 years,” stated Rhona Shore, Paperny Family JCC Executive Director. “Jewish organizations have been targeted by hate for centuries and must maintain a high level of security to deter those who would do us harm. We are grateful the provincial government has recognized this as a priority and is providing the resources we need.”

“Our church knows the pain of being targeted by hate crimes,” added Thai Nguyen, Calgary Vietnamese Alliance Church pastor. “We are still trying to repair all of the damage caused by arson last summer. The protections these grants make available can make a real difference in churches and local groups like ours, who come together for worship and to serve our communities.”

“We sincerely appreciate Alberta’s generous grant support to help implement a detailed security assessment of our facilities,” stated Dr. Sally Zhao, The Immigrant Education Society president and CEO. “This funding is critical in enhancing our security protocols and developing non-confrontational options to deal with incidents of hate and racism while we serve the most vulnerable population.”

New calls for grant applications will take place this spring and fall. More information on program eligibility and the application process will be available soon.

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