“The City of Wetaskiwin initiated a Community Social Needs Assessment to help guide planning decisions about community based social services.” The purpose of the Social Needs study conducted by consulting group, RC Strategies, was to identify social issues within the community to enable FCSS and the City of Wetaskiwin to create a plan to address these issues. The outcomes of the study were presented to the City of Wetaskiwin Council on January 12th, 2014.
The study included an analysis of the City’s population characteristics and growth potential, a review of various municipal and provincial strategic plans, and inventory of existing social programs offered to community residents. Secondary research was conducted to identify trends in the delivery of social services and prevalent issues to address
FCSS is funded by an 80/20 funding partnership with the Government of Alberta. The total budget is $351,211 with City of Wetaskiwin contributing $70,242 and the remainder from a Government of Alberta grant. FCSS operates with 2 FTE and utilizes a number of part-time staff and volunteers. Some programs are delivered by FCSS directly. Many others are offered through partnerships and collaborations with other organizations.
Key issues identified included mental health, substance abuse and addictions, transportation as a barrier for accessing services, preventative programming for youth, program and services need to be inclusive and culturally sensitive, social issues appear to have an impact on overall community perception, and affordable housing is an issue in Wetaskiwin.
The 2014 Municipal Census records the population of Wetaskiwin at 12,621. The 2011 Federal Census showed a City population of 13,252. The median age of the population is 41.2 (2011 Census) compared to the provincial median age of 36.5. Between the years 2006 and 2014, there has been an 8.0% increase in population from 11,689 residents; an average annual growth of 1.0%.
Wetaskiwin has an elderly population. The 55-64 year old group made up 11.92% of the population in 2014, an increase from 11.38% in 2011 and compared to a provincial average of 11.41%. The 65+ group made up 19.54% in 2014, 20.16% in 2011 compared to 11.13% provincial average. The City has lower percentage rates of population in all categories between 20 and 54 years of age compared to the provincial average.
Wetaskiwin’s population is comprised of relatively equal proportions of male and female residents: 51% are female and 49% are male (2014 Census).
Census of the Population (2011), unless otherwise noted.
• 56.53% of private census family households consist of 2 persons (provincial average: 48.51%).
• There are 3,405 census families living in private households in Wetaskiwin.
• Of the 3,405 census families, 2,275 (66.81%) report being legally married (provincial average: 71.97%).
• 17.87% of couple-family households in Wetaskiwin are common-law (provincial average: 13.57%).
• 45.13% of couple-family households in Wetaskiwin have children (provincial average: 53.49%).
• 1,595 individuals (12.73% of the overall population) in Wetaskiwin live alone.
• 86.51% of Wetaskiwin residents report that English is their mother tongue.
• According to the 2011 National Household Survey, the total median income for Wetaskiwin was $54,619 (provincial average: $89,830).
• Median income of couple-with-children households was $90,591 (provincial average: $98,510).
• Median income of lone-parent households was $48,517 (provincial average: $42,150).
Growth scenarios depicting fifteen year (2030) projections for the City of Wetaskiwin predict a future population of between 13,359 (0.36% annual growth rate) and 15,841 (1.43% annual growth rate) by 2030.
Municipal (City of Wetaskiwin) Strategic Plan (2015 – 2018) contains one vision, one mission, five core values, four strategic goals, twenty-one outcomes, and numerous actions. The importance of social and community well-being are reflected in a number of the Plan’s goals, outcomes and actions. Throughout the Plan are a number of statements which reflect the need to support economic development activities.
Home Support Services has two main components; Meals on Wheels and Housekeeping Services. Meals on Wheels provides hot meals at a cost of $6.50 per meal. Meals are prepared by The Bethany Group on a contracted basis and delivered to clients by volunteers (currently 38 volunteers) Monday through Friday. The program currently serves 23 clients.
Housekeeping Services currently serves over 100 clients on a weekly or biweekly basis. The program is tailored to seniors and individuals with disabilities who require assistance to remain in their homes.
Community Grant Program provides funding to not for profit organizations in Wetaskiwin that provide preventative programs and services that meet the mandate of FCSS. In total $47,185 was distributed to 14 organizations in 2013.
Results from the Household Survey indicated that the top five overall issues in the community were:
1. Substance abuse / addictions (86% stated this issue exists).
2. Depression / mental health issues (84% stated this issue exists).
3. Violence & bullying (79% stated this issue exists).
4. Can’t afford recreation programs (74% stated this issue exists).
5. Relationship breakdown (73% stated this issue exists).
The top five priorities that were indicated that should be addressed in the community were:
1. Substance abuse / addictions (70% identified as a top priority).
2. Affordable housing (54% identified as a top priority).
3. Violence and bullying (46% identified as a top priority).
4. Depression / mental health issues (44% identified as a top priority).
5. Seniors in-home support needs (41% identified as a top priority).
The Study included the following Conclusions & Recommendations presented by consulting group, RC Strategies:
1. Ongoing needs identification.
- Annual “State of the Community” survey.
- Interagency meetings.
2. Enhanced promotion of FCSS and other community programs.
- Continue efforts – directories, Wetaskiwin Times.
- FCSS as a referral agency.
3. Issues of focus.
- Substance abuse & addictions.
- Affordable housing.
- Violence and bullying.
- Mental health issues including depression.
- Seniors in home support.
- Essential service in the community.
- Share Needs Assessment with Wetaskiwin Transit.
5. Cultural inclusiveness.
- Growing immigrant population and sizeable Aboriginal population.
- Ensure services present a welcoming environment.
- Explore an Aboriginal welcome and service centre.
6. Emphasis on youth.
- Ensure that programming in critical hours (3-6 p.m.) is available.
- Unstructured activities.
- Efforts in the community currently that should be continued and enhanced where possible.
7. Positive messaging for Wetaskiwin.
- Positively promote Wetaskiwin to all.
- Positive affirmations and celebrations would promote the community and its services.
- Develop key messages and communication strategy.
8. Cross-sectoral collaboration.
- Leverage existing interagency group.
- Consider broad community outcomes.
- Meaningful opportunities for persons with disabilities and at-risk and marginalized youth.
- Meeting of organizations to discuss volunteer challenges and inform of existing services.
- Need for affordable and low cost housing.
- Housing registry can be developed.
11. Seniors services.
- Sizeable seniors population.
- In home supports; opportunities to recreate.
- Multigenerational programs.
12. Life / job skills training.
- Often aimed at youth – extend to some members of the Aboriginal and newcomers population.
- Ensure people have appropriate access to programs.