Improved social assistance will empower Islanders
Major enhancements to the provincial government’s social assistance program will help Islanders overcome barriers and become more self reliant.
The significant improvements (details at www.princeedwardisland.ca/SA-renewal) 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.
“Our government recognizes that social assistance must have a stronger focus on helping people overcome barriers, gain self confidence, and become more independent,” said Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy. “These extensive improvements – combined with government’s other recent initiatives to help low-income Islanders – will help create a more inclusive and prosperous Prince Edward Island.”
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.
“These enhancements will be especially beneficial for single parents that participate in our programs who will see extra money in their pockets to care for their family, while also striving to be more self reliant and attain long-term employment,” said Adventure Group executive director Roxanne Carter-Thompson.“The increased income exemptions – along with other key improvements such as extended benefits – are extremely important in helping people transition to the workforce.”
The changes align with the provincial government’s Poverty Reduction Action Plan that will be completed in October. They build on other recent provincial government initiatives to reduce poverty – including those in government’s balanced 2018-19 budget – such as:
- increases to food rates, personal comfort allowances and shelter rates;
- increases to seniors and low-income home repair programs;
- increases to school breakfast programs;
- increases to minimum wage;
- income tax relief, including 30,000 Islanders who no longer pay provincial income tax;
- introduction of Generic and Catastrophic Drug Programs;
- introduction of Harvest and Prosper Program;
- introduction of a Grandparents and Care Providers Program;
- introduction of Seniors Independence Initiative; and
- increases to the child care subsidy.
The Prince Edward Island government is making changes to social assistance that will empower Islanders and help them improve their lives. Here are the improvements.
Higher income exemptions (effective July 1)
You can earn more money each month without your benefits being reduced. New monthly income exemptions will be:
- for a single person – $250 a month plus 30 percent of any additional income (was $75 a month plus 10 percent of additional income);
- for a couple – $400 a month plus 30 percent of additional income (was $125 a month plus 10 percent of additional income); and
- for a person or couple with a disability – $500 a month plus 30 percent of additional income (was $125 a month plus 10 percent of additional income).
Child support won’t affect benefits (effective July 1)
Child support payments will no longer be counted as income so they won’t lower your social assistance benefits.
More ‘liquid assets’ are exempt (effective July 1)
You can have more money in savings – or own more things that can be sold for cash (also known as liquid assets) – and still receive social assistance benefits. New liquid-asset exemptions will be:
- $2,500 or less for a single person (was $50);
- $3,500 or less for a single person with dependent children, plus $500 for each dependent (was $900, plus $300 for each dependent);
- $5,000 or less for a single person with a disability (was $900);
- $6,000 or less for a single person with a disability and dependents, $500 for each dependent (was $900, plus $300 for each dependent);
- $5,000 or less for a couple (was $1,200);
- $5,000 or less for a couple with dependents, plus $500 for each dependent (was $1,200, plus $300 for each dependent); and
- $10,000 or less for a couple with a disability and dependents, plus $500 for each dependent (was $1,800, plus $300 for each dependent).
Preparing to enter the workforce (to be introduced over the next 12 months)
If you receive social assistance and are employable, government will help you prepare to enter the workforce.
• Employment readiness – You will receive life-skills training and coaching on how to look for a job.
• Skill development – Government will help you develop your skills and explore transportation options for getting to work.
Medical, dental, optical benefits extended (effective July 1)
Islanders who leave social assistance for a job on Prince Edward Island will receive benefits for the first 24 months including:
• medical benefits;
• dental benefits; and
• optical benefits.
These benefits may be extended beyond 24 months if losing them becomes a barrier to keeping your job.
Help to buy clothes, get driver’s license
You may also receive up to $750 to buy clothes for a job interview, get a driver’s license, or to overcome any other barrier to starting work.
A single point of contact
One toll-free phone call to 1-877-569-0546 will answer all your questions about the provincial government’s social programs. This single point of contact will make it easier to access the support you need.
More electronic options (to be introduced over the next 12 months)
New and easier ways to access social assistance will be introduced including online applications, reloadable bank cards (instead of cheques), and web and smartphone applications.