An Alberta senior is warning others to double check their applications for the province’s affordability payments program after she said a costly mistake was made on hers.
Affordability payments will give those who qualify $600 each over a six-month timeframe. Eligible Albertans include seniors, families with children under 18, and Albertans on support programs like AISH, income support and the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program.
The first of the six payments was supposed to come out on Jan. 31, as long as an application was submitted before Jan. 27.
Senior Roxanna Wright told Global News the last few months have been very hard for her family, so when the opportunity came to apply for the payments — she jumped on it.
“We’re living on our pensions and I’m just trying to keep everything together,” she said. “That $1,200 — even $100 a month — would pay a bill.”
Wright, who lives just outside of High River, added with no computer and not being familiar with the online portal, she decided to go to her local registry for help.
“We filled out my application. Everything was fine,” she said.
“Then about a week ago, I started looking on my application and it said, ‘Banking info, account ending in 03’. I said, ‘Well that’s not my account.'”
Wright said her local bank branch confirmed the error. But, she said when she went back to the registry, she was told no one was able to help her fix it.
“I took my cheque book out, which I had presented in the beginning, and showed her. I said, ‘That is not my account number.’ She said, ‘It is your account number and I’ve been doing it for everybody.'”
‘I’m just really sorry,” Wright said she was told.
“And I said, ‘You may have just cost us $1,200.'”
Global News went to Rangeland Agencies in High River to ask about Wright’s concerns. We were told no one was available to speak with us.
Global News also called the office and when the call was returned late Wednesday afternoon, we were told we’d have to contact the Association of Alberta Registry Agents (AARA) which we did, and left a message.
We also submitted Wright’s information to the province, which informed us it has not received any such complaints, but would look into it.
A spokesperson for the office of the minister of Service Alberta and red tape reduction also said when Albertans apply in-person through a registry agent, they’re provided a print-out to check if everything is correct.
Global News asked if registry agents are provided with training to help Albertans fill out the application forms, and was assured they are.
“Registry agents are provided many tools to ensure services to Albertans are done accurately and efficiently, including instruction manuals, eLearning and frequently asked questions,” the statement read.
The province said registry agents complete and submit the application — with the information provided by the individual — and agents have access to the same instructional video and information available to all Albertans.
“The service does not require any specialized or extra computer knowledge.”
Finally, the government told Global News that delays in receiving affordability payments are usually because “incorrect banking information was entered.”
The spokesperson went on to say that a technical team is currently working on a fix to address errors in applications, so that Albertans can edit information if necessary.
Wright said that is the exact same message she has received, every time she’s called to speak with someone about her concerns.
“15 phone calls today,” she said. “I got nothing.”
Wright said she contacted Global News after exploring every other option, adding she’s worried many other seniors may be out there with the same issue — not knowing there may be a problem.