KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The income assistance rates in Nova Scotia offered through the Department of Community Services need to increase.
And I mean by a serious amount!
The current income assistance rates in Nova Scotia are $535 at best for a single person to pay for shelter, then $275 for everything-else = $810. Living on these allowances alone is difficult.
Also, it is getting harder and harder for income assistance recipients in Nova Scotia to get approved for special needs allowances (telephone, transportation, and special diet allowances). There is more and more red tape for getting approved for these special needs allowances.
As part of researching this article, I did some math to figure out how much money people who had special diets taken away since 2013 have lost. That figure I came to is $609.80 per year on average.That’s $3049 since 2013. Clients who lost those special diet allowances need to be compensated for their loss. After all, they lost money toward their healthy eating budget.
The problem is that rents, power bills, the cost of groceries etc. keep increasing. When income assistance clients lose their special diet allowances on top of that they lose money that was used towards healthy eating.
Raising the allowance to $2500 would be ideal. This amount is ideal because most people who are on income assistance cannot work full time because of disabilities and mental health issues.
Just imagine what a $2500 living allowance could do to improve the lives on income assistance clients.
- After rent, power, and phone bills are paid, it will give them better ability to afford to eat a healthy diet.
- This amount would lift people who have no choice in life but to depend on income assistance out of social isolation.
- It would allow income assistance clients to afford registration fees for places such as fitness centres, indoor swimming pools, etc. A lot of people on income assistance I personally talk to say affordability to these places is needed to help them stay sane in their day to lives.
Keeping the fridge stocked is a weekly chore for everyone regardless of income level. Keeping everyday basics such as bread and milk in the fridge is an essential part of day to day life. It seems these days that food prices change as often as month to month. I have personally had recent conversations with income assistance recipients who tell me that these days when they go to the grocery store they will not go down the meat isle because of how expensive meat is.
From my personal experience it seems these days filling your fridge could cost between $50.00 and $100.00 a week. This is one factor that contributes to the reasons why we have too many people using the local food banks and soup kitchens.
In addition to eating healthy, more money would also help lift people out of social isolation. This can happen when income assistance recipients simply have enough money to do the things in life such as meeting friends for coffee, and paying registration fees for social groups/social programs, fitness centres, etc.
Then there is the right to live a healthy life in general. The current income assistance rates and the red tape clients experience in getting approved for Special Needs allowances violates this right.
Raising the income assistance rates is all about improving the quality life. So let’s get rid of that current low rate and make it an allowance that provides positive features of life.
Improvement in this area would mean everything from improvement in physical health, family relationships, education, and the environment. Also, for those on income assistance who are able to gain employment, an increase in income assistance rates can improve their level of employability as well.
For those clients who cannot work because of their disabilities, an increase in the income assistance rates will improve their general health and day to day mental health.
Developing a, healthy standard of living is related income. People having a healthy level of income to live on can help improve lives in many different aspects, when I say this I mean it can help with everything from eating healthy through to improving their relationship, what to do during recreation and leisure time, through to taking steps to eventually returning to employment.
It is all about the fact that as much as any other human being people on income assistance have the right to a sense of social belonging.
So let’s get those rates increased!
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