The province has announced changes to its social assistance program, with an eye on helping Islanders access benefits more easily, and become more self reliant.
The changes include:
- allowing Islanders to have more savings – and earn more income – while still receiving social assistance benefits;
- no longer counting child support payments as income so they won’t affect benefits;
- preparing clients for the workforce with life skills and job training;
- helping clients transition to their new jobs by extending their medical, dental, and optical benefits for up to 24 months, and offering other assistance like money for new clothes for a job interview; and
- a toll-free phone number as a single point of contact for easier access to government’s social programs.
Increases to the amount of allowed income will mean social assistance clients can work more hours without losing their benefits. For example, a couple can now earn $400 per month plus 30 percent of additional income and still receive benefits, rather than just $125 a month plus 10 percent previously.
Clients also can have more money in savings and own more “liquid assets” (items that can be sold for cash) to continue receiving benefits. For example, a single person with dependents can now have $3,500 in assets compared to just $900 previously.