Social assistance, community groups get $970K extra funding
Personal comfort allowance up from $53 to $71, the first increase since 2002
The Department of Community Services and Seniors will make a total of $970,000 available for increases to social assistance and grants to community-based organizations that help Islanders in need, Premier Wade MacLauchlan announced Wednesday afternoon.
The personal comfort allowance for social assistance clients will be increased from $53 to $71 per month beginning April 1.
The allowance is meant to pay for personal care, entertainment and other incidental expenses. It's available to social assistance clients with special needs, who are permanently incapable of supplementing their income through casual employment.
This is the first time the allowance has been increased since 2002. The increase is expected to cost government $270,000 over the next fiscal year.
MacLauchlan also announced one-time grants totalling $700,000 for 15 community organizations, most of which provide housing and other services for Islanders with special needs. The list includes Pat and the Elephant, Tremploy Inc., and Camp Gencheff.
The extra spending is possible thanks to a projected surplus in the Community Services budget, says MacLauchlan, who noted government has been criticized for leaving millions of dollars from that budget unspent in previous years.
"We've had lots of discussions with people in the community, and with these organizations and with others including our own MLAs about the desirability of putting some greater support toward people with the greatest needs in the province, and to showing that as a whole province we're a caring community," said MacLauchlan.
Queen's County Residential Services is receiving the largest grant of $150,000. The group says it will use that to help pay for an expansion of its housing services.
"Often our group — persons with disabilities — are sometimes the last group to be looked at in times when, you know, things are tight," said executive director Bill Lawlor.
"And I think it's important that the message we're feeling is that there's an interest in trying to provide services to this group and support the organizations."
MacLauchlan also said Wednesday a third quarter fiscal update for the province will be delivered before the end of the week.