CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The province has announced increases to social assistance food and shelter rates.
On Friday morning, the province announced a 10 per cent increase in food rates and a 6 per cent increase in the shelter allowance, the first such increase since 2013. Both increases will take effect as of January of 2019.
These rates were flagged by the most recent Auditor General report. In March, Auditor General Jane MacAdam noted that the shelter allowance had not increased since 2013, despite significant increases in rental rates. MacAdam also noted at the time that periodic reviews of social assistance rates had been lacking and that the clothing, household and personal requirement rates had not changed in more than a decade.
Friday’s announcement followed another announcement in June of increases to social assistance rates.
A visibly emotional Tina Mundy, minister of family and human services, announced the changes at a press conference Friday morning at the Murchison Centre in Charlottetown.
She thanked members of the poverty reduction advisory council, most of whom were present at the announcement. She said the work of these 11 individuals helped shape the province’s poverty reduction action plan.
"I thank each and every one of you for sharing your stories, sharing your lives with us," Mundy said.
"The last eleven months, each and every one of you have invested your time, your energy, your talent and your passion to ensure that every Islander has an opportunity to belong and thrive. I can never thank you enough for bringing the voices of Islanders to life in this action plan."
Premier Wade MacLauchlan also spoke at the announcement.
“Thanks to the hard work of Islanders and responsible management of our province’s finances we are in a position to continue to invest in benefits for Islanders, particularly for those who need them the most,” said Premier Wade MacLauchlan.
“These new investments in Islanders will provide them with additional financial supports that will help our province flourish.”
Following are the other initiatives announced by Tina Mundy, minister of family and human services, at Friday’s news conference:
- A child social inclusion allowance for families on social assistance, which will allow children to have greater opportunities to participate in activities such as school trips
- A new secure income program that will provide an income to Islanders unable to participate in the workforce
- A new 2-1-1 phone service, beginning in the fall of 2019, that will provide a simple, single access point for Islanders seeking assistance
- New job readiness initiatives for Islanders entering the workforce
- Expansion of the STAR (Start To Apply Right) and SEAM (Skills Enhancement And Mentoring) programs that help students in Grades 10-12 return to school