Changes to Sask dietary supplement benefit

From the article from CBC Saskatchewan: families are being impacted by the recent elimination of the standardized 3,000-calorie diet benefit in the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program and Saskatchewan Assistance Program. The story of Alan Hall and Marianne Hollman-Hall is presented; the Halls both have disabilities and relied on that additional $75 benefit to help them afford the healthy food they need. The diet benefit change is expected to affect 760 people on Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability program, and 600 people on the Saskatchewan Assistance Program. Alan Hall now only receives $125 per month for food under the SAID program and is calling for that benefit to be increased to at least $300 per month; Hall says the benefit has not been increased in 32 years despite a dramatic rise in food costs over the decades.

Link to article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/special-diet-cuts-1.4389386

Changes not applying to current situations

The following Saskatchewan Government media release indicates that changes previously announced to Social Services will not apply to current clients in their current situations, but will apply to new clients, or existing clients whose situations change (e.g. they move or become 65 years old)

Province Announces Plans for Income Assistance Programs

Released on November 14, 2016
Changes proposed to Income Assistance programs will not be implemented as announced earlier this year, while the province proceeds to review and redesign its programs to better serve those in need.The 2,700 clients who received letters from Social Services this summer will not have their benefits impacted as a result of these policy changes until such time as their individual circumstances change (for example, they move).  The program changes will continue to apply to new program applicants or to existing clients whose circumstances change.“Our government has listened to the concerns of those who would have been affected by these changes, and we have decided against implementing them for existing clients,” Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said.  “I know that this period of uncertainty has been difficult for people, and I thank them for their patience.“We are committed to ensuring that our programs serve those in greatest need, that they are effective, and that they are sustainable.  To that end, we will be focusing our efforts on reviewing and redesigning our Income Assistance programs to support those who need them most and help people participate in the economic and social life of our province.”

Social Services has begun the work of Income Assistance Redesign, following through on a commitment made in the Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy.  The Redesign will be based on four principles: Income Assistance is citizen-centred, simple, transparent and sustainable.

Income Assistance Redesign will not focus on the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program or on income supports for people over the age of 65.

Earlier this year, the province announced that a number of changes to its Income Assistance programs would take effect September 1 or October 1:

  • Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID): consider the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement when calculating benefits for families and people with disabilities who receive extra or “excess” living income through SAID;
  • Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) and SAID: end the grandfathering provision of excess shelter benefits under both programs in communities that previously had low vacancy rates;
  • SAP and SAID: end the practice of exempting Seniors’ Income Plan (SIP) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)  top-up benefits; and
  • Saskatchewan Employment Supplement (SES): end the practice of grandfathering benefits for families with children aged 13 and over.

Beginning September 1 or October 1, these changes have been applied to new program applicants or to existing clients whose circumstances changed in such a way that their benefits would be affected: for example, they moved or began to receive income support for people over 65.

The changes simplify the programs and contribute to their sustainability.

People who have questions about their benefits are encouraged to call their Income Assistance Worker or Assured Income Specialist, or to contact the Client Service Centre at 1-866-221-5200.

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For more information, contact:

Leya Moore
Social Services
Regina
Phone: 306-787-3610
Email: [email protected]
Cell: 306-519-7835

Smart Social Programs

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Jason Furman argues that “investing in families” (e.g. financial and nutrition assistance programs for low-income families) have a very positive impact on, not only these families, but society as a whole. Contrary to what some skeptics believe, these programs can have long-term positive effects and do not appear to increase dependency. Recent evidence suggests that these benefits are not captured in short-term outcomes. In the long-term, these types of programs have been found to be cost-effective (e.g. reducing crime and health care expenditures).

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/11/opinion/smart-social-programs.html?_r=0

New safety nets needed for era of chronic inequality: Toronto Star Op-Ed

There has been much discussion about the need to reform our social support systems. In a response to recent proposals made by prominent intellectuals, this article by Carol Goar makes the important point: what Canada needs are safety nets redesigned with — not just for — the people who need them.

From the Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/04/14/new-safety-nets-needed-for-era-of-chronic-inequality-goar.html

PFS Presentation to Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction

On March 31, 2015, representatives from Poverty Free Saskatchewan met with members of the Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction. PFS delivered a presentation to the group. This presentation provided background information on the structure and work of Poverty Free Saskatchewan (e.g. research, building connections and consultations). The presenters also discussed some ideas the AGPR should consider in moving forward e.g. the potential to create legislation as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce poverty, and the need to involve people with lived experience with poverty in the process in meaningful ways.

PFS presentation to AGPR – Mar 31 2015 – final

Government announces poverty reduction strategy committee

Today Saskatchewan Social Services announced the formation of a committee to develop its poverty reduction strategy.

See the media release http://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2014/december/22/eleven-help-reduce-poverty