featured Poverty

Community Services saves millions on social assistance payments

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Department of Community Services closed its 2017-18 financial books with a $3.5 million surplus in its Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA) program.

The savings came about because of a lower than expected caseload, the department reports in public accounts documents for the 2017-18 fiscal year today, released on July 26.

Photo Robert Devet

Last year the department also reported a surplus, but this year it is higher by $1.1 million. In its 2017/18 business plan total expenditures for the ESIA program were forecast to be $346 million.

Service Design and Delivery, the division leading the welfare transformation, was $3.8 million over budget, which it blames on “delays in achieving departmental transformation savings.” This is a puzzling statement, and we will dig a bit deeper next week.

The ESIA savings are by no means huge in the grand scheme of things, yet the news must be difficult to swallow for the many people on social assistance whose life is a daily struggle for food and dignity.

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  1. A bit “difficult to swallow,” yes. Please pass the Rolaids. To be fair, it is *possible* that there are unforeseen circumstances, or realities behind the scenes that could account for this surplus in honourable, fair, and moral terms, but it still looks bad and leaves…a bit of a taste.

  2. Most of us had our special needs slashed over the last three to four years, especially money for bus passes and special diet. I have found more than one incident of the DCS being confronted during a Legislature meeting that any surplus was gained by cuts to special needs and/or years with no increases in our cheques. Ms. Lord: “…it seems to me that the amount of $7.5 million may be the same amount that they have saved from special needs and possibly saved from not increasing the basic income assistance for the two previous years.”

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