In January 2018, there was a monthly average of 36,850 men, women and children on Social Assistance in our province. Out of that number, 6,908 recipients (91.4% of them being single) were on Extended Benefits meaning they are certified disabled. All the other 29,942 recipients were in the Transitional Assistance category. In this category, slightly more than two thirds are single individuals and one-fifth of them are one-parent family.1 Two thirds of social assistance recipients rely on food banks to survive.
All the men, women and children living on social assistance are in the category of low income as defined by the Market Basket Measure ($19,234 for a single individual). None of them can meet their basic needs in terms of food, housing, transportation, clothing, etc. As Table 1 shows, they experience a significant annual deficit and are forced to live in constant economic insecurity.
Annual revenue for different categories of citizens on social assistance, 2017 ($)
|Category||Total annual revenue ($)||Poverty line (Market Basket Measure – 2015)||Annual deficit ($)|
|Single||7 028||19 232||– 12 204|
|Single disabled||9 740||19 232||– 9 492|
|One parent, one child||18 577||27 193||– 8 636|
|Couple, two children||26 368||38 463||– 12 095|
Source: Department of Social Development and Cansim 206-0093
Inflation and loss of purchasing power
One of the ways to change the situation of citizens on social assistance is to increase their basic rate. The basic rate is not high enough and has not even followed the rate of inflation. The basic rate for a single employable individual has not since 2010, and for all others, it has not increased since 2014. Everyone has experienced a loss of their purchasing power.
To compensate for the loss of their purchasing power over the years, a single employable in the Transitions Assistance category should receive a 16.09% increase and all the other recipients should receive a 8.77% increase in 2019 Afterwards, the rates should be indexed to follow inflation.