Dear Minister Regan.
It’s me, Kendall, once again. After I posted my open letter to you in the Nova Scotia Advocate on June 21st, 2017, I realized that there are other issues that I skipped.
In my earlier letter I wrote about the slow pace of the announced social assistance transformation, as well as the secretiveness around what it is all about. As well, I talked about more and more people losing their special needs allowances, bus passes and experiencing other cuts. And I mentioned how income assistance rates have been frozen for three out of four years, with only a tiny $20.00 increase in one year.
On the one hand it looks like the transformation is going to result in a better system, but on the other hand people are concerned about it not being good enough by a long shot. We hear rumours about a standard household rate, with a 2% increase for those who are expected to return to work, and 5% increase for people who live with disabilities. This increase however does not bring the allowance levels up enough for people to be able to live on.
Something I would like to suggest in today’s follow-up letter is that your liberal government should be looking at doubling the $275.00 personal allowance. That will start clients in the direction of having enough to live on.
Something I want to bring to your attention in this letter is something I wrote about how caseworkers get away with behaving like they are medical professionals when it comes to approving special diets. It is also this part of the ESIA policy that sets the stage for caseworkers further questioning doctors about the medical documentation that clients provide.
Anytime I have been in touch with Community Services bureaucrats throughout this transformation process, over the past four years. they are not even paying attention to the need to improve this part of the ESIA policy. Here you can read how this policy has affected me personally.
Persons with disabilities need a respectful system while receiving their living allowances. As I was trying to tell you in my previous letter, the current system is not respectful. It is important for persons with disabilities to eat healthy and for their dietary needs to be accommodated.
I will end this letter by saying that it is the belief of advocates like myself that if the minister you replaced really did care about what was happening with social assistance clients during her time in office, then real change would have happened by the end of her second year.
Hopefully you will do a better job moving forward.
Kendall Worth is the chair of the Benefits Reform Action Group (BRAG)
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Photo Allie Graham, The Signal