KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – It looks like the provincial budget forgot about people on social assistance.
Not only are no increases for personal and shelter allowances budgeted for 2017-18, the provincial affordable living and poverty reduction tax credits will also remain the same. Similarly, recipients of the Nova Scotia Child Benefit, which aims to reduce child poverty, will not see an increase.
In fact, people on welfare will get even poorer, because that’s what happens when you don’t get a raise while everything gets more expensive because of inflation.
How much you lose depends on your situation. If you’re a single able bodied adult you will be poorer by 11.72 per month, given a rate of inflation of 1.9%.
If you’re a single person with disabilities, but without any special needs benefits, you stand to lose $16.19 per month to inflation.
And a single parent with a two-year old child will see their buying power reduced by $17.54 per month.
Joanne Bernard, the minister of Community Services, doesn’t seem to understand how every penny counts when you are on social assistance.
“We are working on benefit reform to make sure we look at the longer term. We know that incremental changes, $2 here and $5 there, does not make a substantial difference in the lives of people,” she said.
While true that people on social assistance need a substantial increase and deserve a life in dignity, it is unlikely this government has a genuine intention to make this a reality. After all, poor people are easy to ignore, and many are too intimidated and tired to speak out.
Meanwhile the pennies do count. Joanne Bernard’s desire to balance the budget over the backs of people who face unimaginable hardships on a daily basis is unconscionable.
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