featured Poverty

Welfare changes nothing but smoke and mirrors

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Yesterday Community Services announced its full package of changes to income assistance to be implemented on December 27.

We have known about most of the changes for quite a while now.

Some things implemented earlier we like. Allowing people who work to keep more of their earnings before it gets clawed back is a good thing. So is the fact that child support clawbacks are gone.

And some other changes are just smoke and mirrors. 

Take the increase in the welfare rates, for example. Folks able to work will get a 2% increase, and people who live with disabilities or are fleeing an abusive situation get 5%.  

Unfortunately, inflation ensures that most people will be poorer than they were a year before even after the raise kicks in. 

As human rights lawyer Vince Calderhead said earlier this year at a panel about poverty, “taking into account inflation, in every single case transformation means that people will be worse off next March than they were at the beginning, that’s the bottom line. So much for those who were told that the transformation will improve their situation.”  

Here he makes the same argument for the CBC. 

See also: For people on income assistance there is another tunnel at the end of the tunnel

Here is another change that the department is bragging about. “Some clients do not receive the maximum amount because portions of the assistance are based on actual expenses. Under the new standard rate, all clients’ assistance will be raised to the maximum allowable,” the press release states.

When I asked the department a while ago how many recipients would benefit because of this new rule, I was told they didn’t know.  All I know is that there can’t be very many with maximum rates being so very inadequate. 

Finally, the department raised the Poverty Reduction Credit threshold from $12,000 to $16,000, effective in July 2021. This is to ensure that nobody who received an increase in their monthly cheques would end up losing money. 

Good for the people who qualify.

Unfortunately, the credit isn’t for everybody by a long shot, as I explain here. Only “hundreds” of people will benefit as a result, the same press release states.

As we hear over and over, from first voice people as well as many independent experts, when you’re on income assistance in Nova Scotia you don’t receive near enough money to live a life in dignity. 

It’s horrible that this government is doing so very little to change things for real.

See also: Welfare recipients keep getting poorer in Canada’s most miserly province

With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.

Subscribe to the Nova Scotia Advocate weekly digest and never miss an article again. It’s free!