Social assistance rates taking big jump on P.E.I.

The P.E.I. government announced a double digit increase in social assistance food rates on Friday morning, along with some entirely new social assistance programs.

Food and shelter rates going up

Marcia Carroll of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities speaks at the podium as Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy sit at the head table. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

The P.E.I. government announced a double digit increase in social assistance food rates on Friday morning, along with some entirely new social assistance programs.

"These new investments in Islanders will provide them with additional financial supports that will help our province flourish," said Premier Wade MacLauchlan in a news release.

Friday's announcement included:

  • A 10 per cent increase in social assistance food rates.
  • A six per cent increase in social assistance shelter rates.
  • A new child social inclusion allowance, providing money for families so children can participate in activities.
  • A new secure income program for Islanders unable to participate in the workforce.

Islanders looking for help will be able to call a new 211 service, where staff will guide them through what's available.

The province said it is investing about $68 million over the next five years. 

MacLauchlan said the investments were possible because of the financial position of the province. On Wednesday, the province announced higher-than-expected tax revenues had pushed the government's expected surplus up to $75.2 million.

Roxanne Carter-Thompson, chair of the Poverty Reduction Advisory Council, says all the hard work was worth it. (Nicole Willams/CBC )

It was an emotional day for many in the room at the announcement. Members of the poverty reduction council have been working on the program for months.

"We went across this Island, and had a chance to talk to people and hear their ideas, suggestions and solutions on how we were going to reduce and prevent poverty," said chair Roxanne Carter-Thompson.

The council consisted of Islanders who have struggled with poverty like Regina Younker. She shared her story and what getting support has meant to her.

Regina Younker, who sits on the council, shared her emotional story of struggles with poverty. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"Being able to go to a grocery store and not worrying about what I could buy and what I couldn't buy," she said.

"I bought fresh fruit, I had strawberries and I had grapes, and I don't even know what else, cantaloupe and stuff like that in my fridge and I've never been able to do that. It's always been about bread, milk. What we really needed and what we didn't."

The details of the plan still need to be worked out by the advisory council.

Some programs will roll out at the beginning of next year, while others won't start until the fall. 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Nicole Williams


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