PE Ledger

Benefits for social assistance are increasing, but not fast enough, according to an advocate

Jillian Kilfoil

‘It’s a system that keeps people in poverty,’ says the author.

Social assistance recipients will get a permanent rise in their monthly income beginning in January 2022.

Adults will now receive $450 per month, parents of children up to 11 years old will receive $271 per child per month, and parents of children aged 12 to 18 would receive $359 per child per month.

Brad Trivers remarked, “Our most vulnerable Islanders have the autonomy to spend it where they need it most.”

“They have to make difficult decisions, and this raise will make those decisions much simpler.”

The increases, according to Trivers, are in response to growing inflation. The national average is 4.7 per cent, an 18-year high. P.E.I. has the highest annual rate of inflation in the country, at 7%.

Trivers stated, “We have to respond to what is occurring out in the world.”

Overall food prices would rise three to five per cent, according to Canada’s Food Price Report for 2021. Most Atlantic provinces, with the exception of New Brunswick, are expected to have gained even higher than that.

The province is also providing a one-time increase to the allowance for school-aged children in December. Parents with children aged four to eleven will earn $200, while those with children aged twelve to eighteen would receive $250. That’s more than double the usual quantity.

‘Given the bare minimum to survive’

While the increase is welcome, Jillian Kilfoil, executive director of Women’s Network P.E.I., believes the amount people will get is still insufficient.

“Marginal rate increases, while welcome, will not fix the problem,” Kilfoil added.

She believes the entire social assistance system should be abolished and replaced with a basic income guarantee.

On P.E.I., persons on social assistance are given the “basic minimum to subsist,” according to Kilfoil, which keeps them in poverty.

“It’s a system that robs a lot of individuals of their dignity,” Kilfoil added.

“Instead of giving them what they need and trusting them to spend it on what they need, there’s a procedure where you’re nickeled and dimed and have to seek approval for everything ahead of time.”

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