Thursday, 23 May 2019

This morning Tim Blades, anti-poverty advocate, member of BRAG and CASAR, and NS Advocate author, spoke truth to power about the Community Services’ Employment Support and Income Assistance program, better known as welfare or income assistance. Tim did so at Law Amendments, while the Financial Measures Act (this year’s budget) was under the microscope. And oh boy, did he ever tell them a thing or two!

In 2019 all income assistance recipients in Nova Scotia stand to lose a good chunk of buying power to inflation. In 2020, when people on income assistance finally get a raise, that raise in most cases gets eaten up by inflation, and then some.

In other news, Community Services spent millions less on welfare payments last year than it anticipated.

Stella Lord, of the Community Society to End Poverty in Nova Scotia, writes on this year’s budget, and welfare transformation. “nstead of punitive regulations and an outdated categorical budget deficit model that pre-defines “need” but keeps people constantly “in need,” we require a social safety net and service-delivery model worthy of the name. How about one that rests on social justice, human rights, and community well-being?”

News release: CSEP is disappointed that the government has decided to stick with their proposed 5% welfare rate increase for people with disabilities or those fleeing abuse (S.45 clients) and 2% for everyone else. “We are also very disappointed that the SHR and the increases will not come into effect until January 2020” said Stella Lord.

News release: 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 Disability Rights Coalition is collecting signatures to an open letter to Premier Stephen McNeil, asking his government to stop warehousing people with disabilities and focus on investing in community living options instead. Alternatively, the group is asking people who are institutionalized and/or waiting for a community living space to file an individual human rights complaint.