Legislative Assembly hears more complaints about Saskatchewan income support

The Saskatchewan Opposition joined a client of Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) on Thursday in calling again on the provincial government to change the social assistance program and increase its benefit rates.

Frank Francoeur is a father of two who switched to SIS from the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) last August,

Francouer, who says he was on welfare after getting divorced and also suffers from mental health issues, told reporters he had less money to cover basic living expenses at the end of the month on the SIS than on the SAP.

He adds that he recently received an eviction notice at his home from the Regina Housing Authority (RHA) and claims that the practices of the SIS and RHA are to blame.

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The Saskatchewan Housing Corporation, which oversees the RHA, generally subsidizes housing for its clients by charging them 30% of their household income.

For welfare clients, however, this method is not used if that client is receiving more money for housing through a welfare program such as SIS or the old SAP program .

In the case of SIS, the Saskatchewan Housing Authority also considers “household costs” when setting rent levels.

In the case of Francoeur, who receives a benefit of $975 through SIS, this means that his rent went from $761 to $945 when he moved from SAP to SIS.

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He says there is a difference, however, in that SIS customers are expected to pay for utilities out of their housing allowance, while SAP has provided a specific benefit of $40 for utilities in addition to housing allowance. In addition, electricity bills were paid directly by social services.

With $30 for utilities left in her housing allowance, Francoeur says her family’s electricity bills can top $120, forcing her to dip into her basic benefit of $285 from the SIS to cover costs.

All things considered, he says that although on SAP he would have $315 a month to spend on other living expenses after paying rent and utilities, he sometimes has less than $200 a month to cover expenses. basic livelihood on SIS.

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He said that, especially when inflation is taken into account, he often finds himself getting out of it.

“I immediately pay my rent and electricity,” he said.

“My diet is spaghetti and rice. There are food bank visits. Clothes, everything else has to die.

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Although dealing with SIS was difficult, Francoeur said his eviction was because he was never told his rent was to increase by almost $200 when he moved from SAP to SIS.

He said it was revealed to him during an annual rent renewal process in March and he was told he would have to pay the unpaid difference. He said he made an initial payment of $400 on that balance and asked if a payment arrangement could be made, but RHA refused.

He said his rent payment for that month was automatically applied to those arrears and as a result he then defaulted on his next rent payment.

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Social Services spokeswoman Meara Conway says stories like Francoeur’s are proof that SIS not only needs higher benefit rates, but the program needs separate public service delivery in addition to housing and basic benefits.

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“It’s mind-boggling. It’s just cruel,” she said.

“We’re at a point where rates are so low that we’re tearing the social fabric apart, like people can’t live with that.”

Social Services Minister Lori Carr was not in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, but former minister Donna Harpauer answered questions from reporters about it.

She defended the SIS program and its tariffs, but declined to comment specifically on Francoeur’s situation.

She said, however, that officials from the government, which oversees the Regina Housing Authority, will meet with Francoeur to discuss her case.

“There are always clients, I know from having been a minister in the past, who have a change in circumstances and who may not understand the change in program that is coming and that is why officials will meet with them.”


Click to play video: “Support for Saskatchewan Income Support Clients with High Needs Grows”







Increased support for Saskatchewan Income Support clients with high needs


Increased support for Saskatchewan Income Support clients with high needs – November 12, 2021

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Julio V. Miller