Sask. NDP concerned with new income assistance program

The provincial opposition is not happy with the newly announced Saskatchewan Income Support program.

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said how the plan only offers tweaks to the existing social assistance program, instead of coming up with a proper poverty reduction strategy.

The program is meant to be simpler, transparent, client friendly and have more features that will help clients become more self-sufficient and includes motivational interviewing, online applications and higher monthly earned income exemptions.

Meili says the motivational interviewing will not be helpful for people in need.

“You can’t just say to people that you should be more motivated and then you won’t be poor anymore. People in poverty are already working so hard to get out of it,” he said.

“It really actually makes things harder for people instead of better, so it’s completely a step backwards.”

He suggests the government should be looking at a model that invests in helping people get out and stay out of poverty.

For example, when noting the cost of living, he mentioned how there are more people struggling and how this change is cutting the amount of money people in need can receive.

“Along with already having cut the rental housing supplement making housing pretty much unaffordable, they are now not covering people’s utilities on this new program,” said Meili. “So it’s going to be even more difficult for somebody who is living in poverty to stay housed.”

The new income assistance program was announced by the province this past week.

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