2011 Equality Report Card Excerpt: Social Assistance

↗ Government has finally ended the clawback of the National Child Benefit for families with children who are receiving social assistance. This will benefit families by $66 per month per child and affect about 1,600 children. This is good news.

↗ Changes to the Child Care Subsidy mean more families qualify and child care centres receive a higher rate, and these improvements are welcome.

→ In June 2009, food rates increased by 10% (a total budget increase of about $600,000), and shelter rates increased by 5% (a budget increase of about $940,000). These were important increases. However, these rates still do not allow recipients to meet their needs for adequate food and shelter, amid rising costs. In neighbouring Nova Scotia, a recent food costing study showed a 26.5% increase in costs from 2002 to 2010 for a basic nutritious food basket for a family of four, including a 7.7% increase from 2008 to 2010. According to the 2010 national Hunger Count, more than 35% of food bank users on PEI were social assistance recipients. Not enough is still not enough.

→ The Advisory Council was pleased to see that the Social Assistance Act review resulted in 8 recommendations, including increasing income assistance, helping bridge the transition to work, supporting children for a better future, and providing more assistance to seniors, especially seniors with a disability. The Council still calls on government to act to protect the privacy, rights, and dignity of social assistance recipients under investigation or whose claims are under appeal.

↗ The initiative to use direct deposit for social assistance benefits is a good step to reduce stigma.

Increased allotment of funds for direct payment to social services recipients to bring them up to a standard of living in which all basic needs are met: C

This is an excerpt from the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women 2011 Equality Report Card for PEI, released in June 2011 and based on information updated to May 30, 2011. The Advisory Council is republishing one area of assessment each week on this blog. For more information, visit the Advisory Council on the Status of Women website.


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