The province will be increasing social assistance food rates early in the New Year.
In a media release, the province announced an increase of $6.4 million in funding for social assistance food rates. The increases will mean that, as of January 2020, monthly social assistance food rates will increase by $109 for single adults. Couples will receive an increase of $173 per month, with an additional $34 for each additional child.
Food allowance rates are intended to help low-income recipients cover grocery costs.
The biggest increases will come for single individuals. Single individuals will see their monthly assured income food rates increase from $233 per month to $342 per month, an increase of 47 per cent. A couple with one child under the age of 12 will see benefits increase from $570 per month to $777, an increase of 36 per cent. A couple with two children under the age of 12 will see benefits increase from $644 to $885 per month, an increase of 37 per cent.
“This is an investment in our people. Food prices and the cost of living are continuing to rise, and the issue of food insecurity, especially among our younger generations, is extremely troubling,” said Premier Dennis King.
Food Rates for Individuals, Families:
Individual $233 (January 2019) $342 (January 2020)
Couple $425 (January 2019) $598 (January 2020)
Couple w/ child under 12 $570 (January 2019) $777 (January 2020)
Couple w 2 children under 12 $644 (January 2019) $885 (January 2020)
The increases were praised by Hannah Bell, Green Opposition critic for social development and housing.
“I was thrilled when the premier asked me to help work on this initiative. These new rates are about protecting and advancing the dignity and security for Islanders who are currently being left behind due to old rate structures,” Bell said.
“This investment is one more step in our efforts to make life more affordable and eliminate poverty in our province,” said Social Development and Housing Minister Ernie Hudson.
“This is a matter of renewing and improving our commitment to lower-income Islanders, and sharing in the success of our economy with those who need it the most.”
The release also said the government will also be transitioning to a single living allowance for social assistance clients. The transition will allow recipients to budget their own personal finances for items such as food, clothing, household expenses and personal items.
Social assistance recipients can expect to see the increases on their payments as of Jan. 8, 2020.