Food rates for social assistance clients going up

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Food rates for Islanders on social assistance will see incremental increases over the next five years, the P.E.I. government announced this week.

Starting Sept. 1, food rates will increase by five per cent for a single adult, and comparable amounts for families.

The Department of Community Services is spending $2.8 million over the next five years for this and subsequent food rate increases.

“We made a commitment in the social action plan to explore options for social assistance food rate increases,” Community Services Minister Valerie Docherty said.

She added this increase is based on a 10-year average of the P.E.I. Consumer Price Index for food.

During the spring of 2014 department staff met with food security advocacy groups who provided feedback on food rates and food security issues.

A working group will now be established under the umbrella of the social action plan to continue a collaborative process in looking at food rates for low-income Islanders, Docherty said.

“We were fortunate to have had valuable input from these community groups and the feedback we received helped us to shape this plan,” Docherty said, adding future increases over the next five years will be based on the CPI.

But the increases this year will see food rates increasing only between $3 and $20 a month.

A single adult will receive only $9 a month more for food when rates increase in September.

NDP Leader Mike Redmond says this doesn’t go far enough to help P.E.I.’s most vulnerable.

He pointed to recent data from Statistics Canada showing average weekly earnings in April of this on Prince Edward Island were $777. This was the lowest weekly earnings in the country and well behind second lowest in Nova Scotia at $825.

“The government is falling short on help for social assistance clients and coming up with nothing for the thousands working Islanders who still cannot make ends meet,” Redmond said.

He suggests the province should increase the amount it gives to low-income Islanders in HST rebates as a way to help those who struggle to meet their basic needs.

“The government has known for quite some time that poverty is spreading at the lower paid end of the workforce and that more and more children are missing out on decent chances in life” Redmond said.

“It is time for the cabinet to sit down, hammer out a plan for higher HST rebates for more Islanders, and get the cheques out the door. They have taken this money from people and it is time to send some of it back. Their economic policies are not working.”

Organizations: Community Services, Statistics Canada

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • lucas
    June 28, 2014 - 20:16

    'commitment in action plan to explore options' what kind of stupid talk/thinking is that, - an action plan means action, - Lord we are so poorly helped, - must be our rotten education system catching up to us, exemplified right here by this minister and her highly paid staff.

  • Minister Docherty Says
    June 28, 2014 - 14:47

    “We made a commitment in the social action plan to explore options for social assistance food rate increases”. This is political doublespeak for "We have to do something for PEI's, supposedly, starving people or else this public yammering will never end."

    June 28, 2014 - 09:22

    It is nice to see people getting more even if it is only a little. I am interested in the fact that Stats Canada states that the AVERAGE weekly wages on PEI is $777.00. Based on a 38 hour week that is $22.00 per hour. who on PEI other then Government employees is making that kind of wage. Stats Canada should and must do an account of ALL employees, not just Government employees if they want an accurate weekly wage people receive on PEI.

    • huh
      June 29, 2014 - 10:29

      you being serious? Why would StatsCan's numbers only reference government employees? You honestly think only government workers can make $22? What about doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, principals, pharmacists, IT workers, tradespeople and on and on and on. You think there are no self-employed entrepreneurs who are also making that and far more?