Social assistance benefits increase, but not enough, lawyer says

Beginning in January 2022, Islanders receiving social assistance will see a permanent increase in their monthly benefits.

Adults will now receive $ 450 / month, parents of children up to 11 will receive $ 271 / month per child, and parents with children between 12 and 18 will receive $ 359 per child.

“Our most vulnerable Islanders have the autonomy to spend it where they need it most,” Social Development and Housing Minister Brad Trivers said.

For example, a family of four with two adults and two children aged nine and 15 will receive an additional $ 376 per month.

“They have to make tough choices and that means now, with this increase, those choices will be a lot easier.”

Trivers said the increases are in response to rising inflation. Prince Edward Island has the highest annual inflation rate in the country at 7% – the national average is 4.7%, the highest in 18 years.

“We have to react to what’s going on in the world,” Trivers said.

The Canada Food Prices Report for 2021 shows that overall food prices will increase by three to five percent. He predicts that most of the Atlantic provinces, with the exception of New Brunswick, will see increases even larger than that.

In December, the province also grants a one-time increase in the allowance for school-aged children. Parents of children ages 4 to 11 will receive $ 200 and parents with children ages 12 to 18 will receive $ 250. This is double the normal amount.

“So the bare minimum to survive”

While the increase is good, the amount people will receive is still not enough, said Jillian Kilfoil, executive director of Women’s Network PEI.

“Marginal rate increases, while good, will not solve the problem,” Kilfoil said.

The whole social assistance system should be abolished and a basic income guarantee should be put in place, she said.

Jillian Kilfoil is Executive Director of the Women’s Network PEI (Tee Johnny Photography)

People on social assistance in PEI receive the “bare minimum to survive,” Kilfoil said, and that keeps people in poverty.

“So it’s really a system that takes a lot of dignity away from people,” Kilfoil said.

“And instead of giving them what they need and trusting them that they will spend it on what they need, there is really a process where you are nickel and obscured and you have to get approval for everything. in advance.

“If you need to have your eyes checked, you need to get permission and get approval for it. If you have a problem with your teeth, your teeth will be pulled out instead of making the repairs you need.”

Kilfoil said people who receive benefits say the process is difficult, the rates are too low, and if unforeseen expenses arise, you have no money to support yourself.

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