The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) is concerned about the plight of social assistance recipients. This week’s provincial budget offered a $60 monthly increase. SUMA says the amount falls short of needs, with municipalities left to address hunger and homelessness.
Kelly Anderson has been living on social assistance since injuring his knee four years ago. After paying rent, he has only $200 a month to live on.
“The SIS program is not working for me. It’s not working for many people because the cost of living is just unbelievable,” he said
This week’s provincial budget provided social assistance recipients an extra $60 a month, $30 for rent and $30 for food.
“We don’t get enough rent from the system. We have to use our living cost to cover most of our rent,” Anderson said.
SUMA also said the increase falls short.
“When we’re seeing people that don’t have places to live that are suffering, that are now congregating in our public facilities, in our libraries, on our streets, in front of businesses, that becomes the concern of our municipalities now,” said Randy Goulden, SUMA president.
The NDP Opposition says it understands where SUMA is coming from.
“Yeah, I think they’re right to be concerned. A lot of the fallout from this pretty disastrous new SIS program is, you know, falling to them to kind of pick up the pieces,” said NDP MLA Meara Conway.
The government believes that social assistance is keeping pace with rising costs.
“There was an increase of $11 million this year, $14 million and that has resulted, along with the Affordability Tax Credit, an increase of 15 per cent and so that’s outpaced inflation,” said Gene Makowsky, minister of social services.
SUMA believes more still needs to be done. It will debate a resolution at its upcoming spring convention, calling for higher social assistance payments to help the most vulnerable residents of their communities.