Anti-poverty groups gather in Regina to voice concern over new Sask Income Support program

Local anti-poverty groups have come together to share their displeasure with the new Saskatchewan Income Support program.

The program, which was announced in June, was intended to be a more simple, transparent and client-friendly approach to income support, but several groups have come forward saying that hasn’t been the case.

Anti-poverty ministry advocate Peter Gilmer said the SIS program has caused problems with utilities and rent payments.

“There’s also been a real ripple-effect, so it’s not just people on the SIS program, we’re seeing more problems now for people who are still on social assistance, or who are on the Saskatchewan assured income for disability.”

Gilmer said one positive is it allows people to keep more income, which was the one point anti-poverty groups were consulted on.

“In terms of bringing in the SIS program as a whole, we were caught completely off guard when the program details were announced in June because we had not been a part of that process.”

End Poverty Regina spokesperson Nairn MacKay said there has not been a meaningful increase to social assistance in 10 years.

“Imagine if you were working a minimum wage job 10 years ago or less, imagine trying to live on that? That is what we have people living on,” MacKay said. “Then the department thinks that we train the financial workers in motivational counselling so that we can counsel people out of their poverty. How arrogant.”

Among the anti-poverty groups was the hope that the province will consult with them in order to improve the SIS program in the future.

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