Increases to social assistance payments on P.E.I. aren't enough to cover recent rises in the cost of living, says the P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income, and the government agrees.
The only social assistance clients who'll see an increase in their food allowance are single adults without children, who get an extra five per cent. It goes from $156 to $163.80 a month, and extra $7.80
"It's not really going to go that far," said Ann Wheatley of the P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income.
The food allowance hasn't gone up since 2009, she said, and she says people on assistance dip into their food budgets to pay the rent, because shelter allowances haven't gone up since 2010.
"I think we need to be using more realistic measures to set rates, and we need to be monitoring them and making sure that they increase," she said.
Shelter allowances will go up three per cent this fall, but even the government admits that is not enough. Community Services Minister Valerie Docherty said the government is well aware of rent increases approved by IRAC since the last time shelter rates went up is 10 per cent.
Social assistance increases since Liberals formed government
June 2010: 2% shelter increase
June 2009: 5% shelter increase
June 2009: 10% food rate increase
April 2008: 1% shelter increase
July 2007: 3% shelter increase
"It sounds like a pittance and I have to agree. It's not anywhere near where we know we need to be," said Docherty.
"But as I said the commitment is there from me, the minister, and from our government that this is the beginning of seeing the increases."
Wheatley would like to see shelter allowances rise in step with annual rent increases. And food allowances tied to the consumer price index.
Docherty said rates still have a lot of catching up to do, before there can be talk of automatic annual increases.
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