PEI

Minister promises extra $900K to extend secure income pilot

P.E.I.'s secure income pilot project promised for next year will extend beyond the three months promised by government, according to Minister of Social Development and Housing Ernie Hudson.

Green MLA questions system to select which Islanders benefit

Minister of Social Development and Housing Ernie Hudson answered questions in the legislature about plans for the secure income pilot program. (Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.)

P.E.I.'s secure income pilot project promised for next year will extend beyond the three months promised by government, according to Minister of Social Development and Housing Ernie Hudson.

Hudson made that commitment following questions from Green MLA Hannah Bell, who has been questioning what the criteria for the program will be, and why it will only be a three-month pilot.

"We as a government have a role, we have a responsibility that we have to have programs in place," said Hudson. 

Additional $900K for following year

A secure income program is one of the recommendations that came out of the province's Poverty Reduction Action Plan in 2018.

In the budget currently before the legislature, the province announced $225,000 for a three month pilot project starting in January 2020. It would provide an extra $187 per month on average to 400 low-income Islanders.

Minister of Social Development and Housing Ernie Hudson says there will be funding to continue the secure income pilot beyond three months. (Al MacCormick/CBC)

But in question period Wednesday afternoon, Hudson said it will continue beyond the end of March 2020. 

"After the period of the end of this fiscal year — March 31, 2020 — moving forward after that there is an additional $900,000 that this program will be budgeted for, and that this program will continue with," Hudson said. 

Assuming the number of participants and the amount of money they receive stays the same, that would be enough to continue the program for another full year. 

Questions about criteria 

Bell said she was glad to hear more funding announced, but doesn't believe it's enough. 

Bell said she has heard from constituents who have questions about the criteria for the program. In question period she asked questions on behalf of a constituent, describing it as a "Hunger Games-style system" to select which 400 Islanders will be able to take part.

Green MLA Hannah Bell has been questioning how the secure income pilot program would work. (Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. )

Hudson said the program is starting as a pilot to have the opportunity to review what works and what doesn't, and make any necessary changes. 

Hudson said the exact eligibility criteria has not yet been determined — and his department is working on developing the criteria over the coming months. 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Kerry Campbell

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