For immediate release
Halifax, March 26, 2019
On Tuesday, March 26, the Nova Scotia government will table the budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Those who must rely on government assistance will find out what measures in this budget will help them. They have heard repeatedly that there will be a historic increase of 2-5% for those on income assistance. Most people can expect only the 2% increase. The use of historic is only significant if you think that the bar set by previous government matters and you are looking to score political points. Of course, any increase helps, but this increase amounts to $11.50 a month for a single person considered employable. These individuals are provided $575 per month to cover shelter and all personal expenses. This amount, together with the other little bit of tax credits available gives them only 38% of what they would need to cover basics.
As one recipient said, “While the government will talk about this historic increase, this comes after the loss of the $78 a month transportation allowance. This allowance was replaced by a free bus pass for people living in the Halifax regional municipality.”
The transportation allowance wasn’t just used for the bus, people were able to determine what mode of transportation worked for them, that might include paying a neighbour’s gas, and they might by tickets as needed and even food if there was something left.
On Budget Day, Tuesday March 26th at noon, outside of the legislature, members and supporters of the Benefits Reform Action Group will be gathering for an Empty Plate Luncheon. There are 155,000 people in Nova Scotia living below the poverty line (Market Basket Measure). The 250 plates that will be on display will each represent 650 Nova Scotians who cannot afford the basic goods needed to live in this province.
The reality in our province is that people are going hungry, they are not able to afford food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and all the things necessary to just meet their basic needs. They are trapped in a system based on assumptions and judgements about who lives in poverty and why. The social assistance system is the last resort for people and it is our government’s responsibility to help them with dignity and respect.
Members of BRAG will be available for media interviews on site.
Single person considered employable, total IA per year: $6900 (2% increase is $11.50 per month)
Single person with disability, total IA per year: $9720 (5% increase is $40.50 per month)
Single parent with one child: $10,140 (2% increase is $16.90 per month)
Couple, two children: $14,040 (2% increase is $23.40 per month)