I end my presentation with one request, Ms Knight; Hear what I am saying, look at these examples, and tell me that I am better off.”

Last Friday several members of the Benefit Reform Action Group (BRAG) met with managers at Community Services, at the department’s invitation. Tim Blades was sick and couldn’t make it, but fellow BRAG member Jodi Brown read his letter on his behalf. The letter is addressed to Joy Knight, who is the department’s director of Employment Support Services. Tim tells it as it is.

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 “nstead of punitive regulations and an outdated categorical budget deficit model that pre-defines “need” but keeps people constantly “in need,” we require a social safety net and service-delivery model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?”