The Ministry of Social Services had decided to rescind proposed changes to income assistance programs for existing clients.
The government decided to pull back the changes after outcry from current clients, and moving forward, the proposed changes will only affect new clients, or clients whose circumstances have changed.
Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor says she hopes Saskatchewan residents know the government has heard their concerns.
“I empathize with the anxiety of waiting in limbo and what that has caused, and I want to thank people for their patience during this time. I’m hopeful that the delivery of this news today will be a welcome relief,” said Beaudry-Mellor.
The minister says they will also be implementing a Income Assistance Redesign over the next year in an effort to provide improved services.
“Redesigning the benefit structure to be simplified, transparent and effective. Creating a standard assessment tool to better coordinate services and developing an online application tool as part of a single point of entry that makes it more convenient for people to apply,” she said.
The redesign of income assistance programs will begin right away and will continue into 2017/18. The government says the changes to those services will not include the SAID program.
However, the government has announced a pilot program for new SAID clients to take part in, where they can participate in the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule instead of the province’s current Disability Impact Assessment.
The Saskatchewan NDP have expressed concern with changes to income assistance programs, and the new pilot program.
“If they (clients) make any life situation changes, their benefits will be re-evaluated,” said NDP’s social services critic Nicole Rancourt.
The pilot program is set to begin on November 14, 2016 and will be monitored over several months.