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Community Services Minister Valerie Docherty says no one who is eligible has been turned down for social assistance. (Province of PEI)

Social assistance rates will be going up as early as June, according to Community Services Minister Valerie Docherty.

A five-year plan to increase food allowances for everyone on social assistance will begin this summer.

Docherty says the increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index.

“We believe that this is a good start. Can it be better? Of course it can be better, simply because it does come down to dollars. But we believe this is going to be a good option for those who are on social assistance,” she said.

A government spokesperson says for the first two years of the plan increases may be higher than the CPI. The exact figures haven't yet been determined. Consultations are currently taking place with anti-poverty groups.

Docherty has been under fire in the legislature for leaving  $1.9 million from the previous year's social assistance budget unspent.

On Tuesday she told the house there were 3,700 people on assistance last year — 100 fewer than the year before — so the province didn't need to spend the money.