Extra social assistance food money could go to rent

A University of Prince Edward Island professor is praising the P.E.I. government for coming up with a plan to raise social assistance rates for food, but is concerned about how that money might be spent.

Other parts of social assistance not seeing increase

A University of Prince Edward Island professor is praising the P.E.I. government for coming up with a plan to raise social assistance rates for food, but is concerned about how that money might be spent.

Without indexing for all social assistance, increases for food could go to rent, says applied human sciences Professor Jennifer Taylor. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

Last week the P.E.I. government announced $2.8 million in funding over the next five years to increase food rates.

Applied human sciences Professor Jennifer Taylor said even with the increase, families won't be able to afford a healthy diet. She added that because there's no plan to increase any other components of social assistance, other costs will continue to nibble away at that food budget.

"You can put the food rates up but if you don't index the housing, if you don't look at some of the other costs … whether it's anything from transportation to housing, clothing, anything like that, which have gone up too, then that increased money for food may well go to rent," said Taylor.

Taylor said increasing assistance rates can have far-reaching effects. A better diet would improve health outcomes for Island families and help children do better in schools, improving the province's low scores on international student testing.

She is encouraged that the province has been consulting with advocacy groups and that government is putting together a committee to monitor rates in the future.

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