Last December a coalition of more than 25 anti-poverty organizations and advocates released A Call to Action: Community Agenda for Social Assistance Adequacy and Reform, a document that demands a substantial increase in social assistance rates and proposes a clear guide to collaboration in the final phase of the Employment Support and Income Assistance transformation, which has been in progress since 2015.
Department of Community Services civil servant, Brandon Grant, responded to this call to action stating that the government is not willing to pause any forthcoming changes, and that there has been no commitment to raise social assistance rates.
“The government says that our coalition is asking them to stop any further program changes. We want to be clear that this not what community has asked for,” said Fiona Traynor, coalition member. “The government has publicly stated that it will be holding a third round of community consultations – the Community Agenda gives them a guideline for that engagement.”
“The continued decision to not reasonably raise the rates ensures that people who are turning to your government as their last resort cannot live in safety and dignity”, said Michelle Mallette, community organizer and anti-poverty activist. “Mr. Grant’s letter does little to address the process presented by the coalition and makes no commitment on the need for social assistance policy rooted in human rights,” she added.
The coalition is releasing a detailed rebuttal in conjunction with Mr. Grant’s letter to help illustrate the disconnect between the needs of the community and the view of those within the Department of Community Services.
The coalition calls on Premier McNeil to be accountable to Nova Scotians by responding to the community agenda and meeting with the group to discuss next steps.
Dalhousie Legal Aid Service
Community Organizer and Anti-Poverty Activist