Social assistance cases down

The number of social assistance cases on P.E.I. is down so far this year.

Drop attributed to minimum wage increases, seniors' programs

The number of social assistance cases on P.E.I. is down so far this year.

There has been a drop of about 100 cases in the first five months of the fiscal year, with a decline each month.

"The reasons often can be diverse. But certainly we've seen increases in minimum wage. Folks are availing themselves of every reasonable opportunity for work. And I think it speaks to Islanders wanting to support themselves," said Bob Creed, director of social programs for the province's Department of Community Services and Seniors.

"At the same time we also know that we have an increasing number of seniors in our province as a population. And, generally speaking, with the federal income support programs that support seniors when they reach 65, they generally don't need social assistance."

In addition, provincial measures such as full-day kindergarten in the school system and increases to child-care subsidy programs may be making it easier for people to work, said Creed.

He cautioned that caseloads often increase during the late fall and winter. And he said it's unclear at this point what impact changes to employment insurance might have on the social assistance caseload.

The current social assistance budget on P.E.I. is a little more than $34 million. The budget has been going up by about three per cent annually, mostly because of rate increases.