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 “nstead of punitive regulations and an outdated categorical budget deficit model that pre-defines “need” but keeps people constantly “in need,” we require a social safety net and service-delivery model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.
Kendall Worth finds it difficult not to get frustrated with Community Services’ lack of progress in making things better for people on Income Assistance.
Kendall Worth on the Community Services transformation project: “We understand things don’t happen overnight. However the length of time this transformation has been taking to date is concerning and frustrating to people in the community. Right now we are five years into the transformation and very few problems for people who depend on this system have gotten resolved. Why is the length of this transformation process taking so long for people to see positive results?”
Late last year I received a response to a Freedom of Information request that has all significant information greyed out. It’s a presentation about cost savings as a result of the Community Services Transformation Project. If a government initiative potentially will save money, possibly at the detriment of service levels, shouldn’t we be allowed to know how so, and how much?
Poverty activist and welfare recipient Tim Blades speaks at the recent screening of My Week on Welfare in Lower Sackville. His message is not the one that Community Services would like you to hear, but it’s rooted in lived experience.
Recently Community Services organized a series of info sessions to provide an update to stakeholders on the ESIA transformation. I couldn’t go of course, since I am merely a grouchy old journalist and not a stakeholder. But I talked to a few anti-poverty advocates, and this is what I found out.
Our correspondent Kendall Worth attended one of the welfare transformation meetings organized by Community Services, and he came back disappointed.