KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Benefits Reform Action Group (BRAG), a coalition of welfare recipients and poverty advocates is not happy with last week’s provincial budget.
“The McNeil government budget shows no increase in benefits for Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA), meaning people on income assistance are faced with another year of living well below the poverty line and with greater struggles to make ends meet,” writes the group in a news release issued today.
“When factoring in inflation and the rising cost of living, especially for food, stagnated income assistance rates in reality mean a decrease income for social assistance recipients,” BRAG states.
Making ends meet is becoming increasingly difficult, and that is taking its toll, the group warns.
“BRAG is disappointed with the decision not to increase income assistance benefits and is concerned about ESIA recipients’ ability to meet their basic needs. Many ESIA clients have mental health challenges and this news is a significant blow. BRAG members hear stories of increasing depression and anxiety because of the hopelessness this news brings.”
And the group has little time for government statements that the budget will make life more affordable for Nova Scotians, and that there will be “more for those who need it most.“
“Good Grief!” writes the group. “While announcing tax cuts for the middle class and businesses it has not provided a single penny for the poorest of the poor in Nova Scotia—the people in need and reliant on social assistance.”
“We call upon each of the parties to tell us how they will increase social assistance rates during the first 100 days of their government,” the statement concludes. “Money to pay your rent and put food on the table cannot wait – the reality is that ESIA recipients need better assistance now.”
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