Social Assistance Renewal
The Prince Edward Island government is making significant changes to social assistance that will empower Islanders and help them improve their lives. Here are the improvements.
Earn more income and have more savings – without losing benefits
Higher income exemptions
You can earn more money each month without a reduction to your social assistance benefits. New monthly income exemptions will be as follows:
- 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).
How this change will help
If you are a couple receiving social assistance benefits with $500 a month in income, you will see an extra $267 dollars in your pocket each month.
Child support will not affect benefits
Your child support payments will no longer be counted as income so they won’t lower your social assistance benefits.
How this change will help:
If you are a single parent receiving social assistance benefits with $500 a month in income and $300 a month in child support, you will see an extra $463 per month in your pocket.
More liquid assets exempt
You can have more money in savings – or own more things that can be sold for cash (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).
The above changes take effect July 1, 2018.
Supporting a transition to work
If you are able to leave social assistance for the workforce, government will help you make this important transition to self reliance.
Medical, dental, optical benefits extended
If you leave social assistance for a job on Prince Edward Island, you will continue to 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 a driver’s license
You may also receive up to $750 to buy clothes for a job interview, get a driver’s license, or overcome any other barrier to starting work. This change takes effect July 1, 2018.
Preparing to enter the workforce
If you receive social assistance and are employable, government will help you prepare to enter the workforce. You will receive life-skills training and coaching on how to look for a job. You can also get help to develop your skills and explore transportation options for getting to work. This change will be introduced over the next 12 months.
Making things easier
A single point of contact
There is one toll-free phone number call (1-877-569-0546) for answers to all your questions about provincial government social programs. This single point of contact will make it easier to get the support you need.
More electronic options
New and easier ways to access social assistance will be introduced including an online application, re-loadable bank card (instead of cheques) along with web and smartphone applications. These options will be introduced over the next 12 months.
In addition to these new improvements, the Government of Prince Edward Island continues to assist low-income Islanders by:
- increasing food rates over the last five years (a $1.8 million investment) and again in 2018-19 (a $420,000 investment);
- committing to increase shelter rates in 2018-19 (a $500,000 investment); and
- partnering with the federal government over the last three years to invest a combined $40 million each year to reduce poverty in Prince Edward Island.
These significant social-assistance changes are a key part of the provincial government’s Poverty Reduction Action Plan, to be completed in October 2018.