Social assistance increase bypasses needy clients

Many people receiving end-of-month social assistance cheques aren't eligible for the three per cent increase that started Oct. 1.

Many mentally ill, uneducated are unemployable despite classification: AIDS Saint John

Many people receiving end-of-month social assistance cheques aren't eligible for the three per cent increase that started Oct. 1, and that is a problem says the AIDS Saint John program coordinator.

People in one classification — singles deemed employable — will not receive the $22 increase allotted to singles on social assistance. Their monthly rate remains $537.

Diane McGovern said many of her clients are addicts on methadone treatment and are often dealing with mental illness, have little education and are very much in need of the extra money.

"Many of these people are not employable at this point in time and they may not be for some time to come," said McGovern.

"It's a fairly small amount of money in terms of an increase, but one that certainly single people who are spending 90 per cent of their income just to put a roof over their head could certainly use those few dollars."

Singles with long-term needs or significant, multiple barriers to employment will get the increase, said Jean-François Pelletier, a spokesman for the New Brunswick Social Development department.

But McGovern questions that, claiming her clients with mental health issues and little education aren't getting the extra help.

The rate for single employables was increased by 82 per cent in 2010, said Pelletier.

But the previous rate was just $294 a month. That increase brought the amount to the current rate of $537 a month.

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