AISH recipients slam changes, saying more is needed
Critics say auditor general report recommendations not fully considered
Changes to the province's Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program (AISH) are getting the thumbs down from some on the receiving end of the benefits.
Under Bill 5, introduced Monday, disabled people with trust funds could still qualify for the program and they'd have a year to invest an inheritance or financial gift in a tax-exempt setup like a Registered Disability Savings Plan.
People who receive income from a trust fund, however, would see a portion of their benefits clawed back. For example, a single person who receives $300 a month from a trust would have $75 deducted from AISH benefits of $1,588.
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A Calgary AISH recipient says the province should have raised benefits, not cut them.
"I can't afford a regular apartment," Mary Salvami told CBC News.
"So I have to have a subsidized apartment and a subsidized low income bus pass, so I always have to almost beg just to get the things that I need done and not have much for luxuries."
Salvami says the trust fund eligibility doesn't help her because her parents can't afford to set one up for her.
"I would like to see them raise AISH to the cost of living and index it annually so that people can afford to live and not just be below the poverty line all the time."
No evidence of action on report
A 2017 auditor general report concluded more staff training was needed in application assessments and improved public reporting, among other gaps.
Carla Howatt's 25-year-old daughter is an AISH recipient. She says the changes don't address any of the issues flagged in the report.
"We have not seen any evidence of there being action on that auditor general report, which had some very pointed recommendations and issues with it," Howatt said.
"We have heard nothing about what they're doing to improve that."
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With files from Radio-Canada, Michelle Bellefontaine