The government is cutting the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) rate by $20 per month. This means that a single person in a larger centre will have to live on $563 per month plus capped rates for utilities. A single mother will only receive $946 per month and the rate is even lower in smaller centres.
This is really a double cut since the TEA program has been expanded so that more people are being placed on this the least adequate of income assistance programs. It has grown from approximately 1,500 to 5,500 adult recipients in just a few years. The government is also cutting $20 per month for Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) and Saskatchewan Assistance Plan (SAP) beneficiaries living in residential care.
Elimination of Funeral Coverage
The government will no longer cover the cost of funeral services for SAID and SAP beneficiaries. This is an issue of basic decency and dignity. The coverage was accessed approximately 400 times per year.
When the government took part in a Poverty Reduction Strategy process it was broadly assumed this would lead to a redesign of income assistance programs that would enhance benefits. Instead they are look at the following cuts.
Ending Home Repairs and High Calorie Special Needs Diets
The government is looking to end the practice of providing funding for home owners on income assistance to get needed repairs for basic health and safety reasons. They are also looking at ending the $75 high calorie diet that has helped many with special dietary needs meet the most basic nutritional levels.
Hiking Overpayment Recovery Rates
The government is looking at raising the monthly claw-back of benefits for those who have been deemed to have an overpayment. A high proportion of recipients fall into this category. This is usually through no fault of their own but due to fluctuating income and sometimes ministry error. Given that benefit levels are already inadequate to meet basic needs, a hike in recovery rates will greatly increase hardship.
Reducing Asset Exemptions
The very least that could have been expected coming out of a Poverty Reduction Strategy was an increase in wage and asset exemptions which are amongst the worst in Canada. Instead the government is moving in exactly the opposite direction by considering reducing asset exemptions for SAP and TEA recipients.
Cutting School Supplies for Children
The government is looking to end the provision of an annual grant for children’s school supplies which will increase hardship for families and act to further stigmatize children living in poverty.