People with disabilities in residential care to get travel costs reimbursed but $20 allowance eliminated
Travel to social events will not be covered under the new Sask. system
Changes are coming to how some people in the Saskatchewan government's income support programs pay for travel costs.
Under the current system, people who live in residential care settings and who are in the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability or Saskatchewan Assistance Program receive $20 per month to pay for travel costs.
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That travel benefit will be eliminated on July 1, affecting about 4,200 people with disabilities, illness or living on a low income.
Marg Friesen, with Saskatchewan Voice of People with Disabilities, said her office has been fielding plenty of inquiries about the changes.
"Twenty dollars doesn't sound like a lot of money to people who aren't on a fixed income, but $20 is a lot when you're only receiving $1,200 to $1,300 a month to cover all your needs," Friesen said.
Under the new program, those who qualify will have their actual travel costs to work, day programs or medical appointments reimbursed. Mileage will need to be tracked and submitted.
That alone could be a challenge for people with disabilities, said Friesen.
"Not all people are going to be able to save receipts or ask for receipts, or remember to ask for a receipt to get reimbursed for such travel. So, it's going to create a lot of up-front inquiries," she said.
Travel to social events will not be covered under the new system. In the past, recipients could use the travel benefit how they liked, such as for paying for part of the Paratransit monthly fare.
Minister of Social Services Tina Beaudry-Mellor said the government is trying to focus on core concerns right now.
"In the economic environment that we're in, we're very focused on the essential and the core things that we need to provide," Beaudry-Mellor said.
The official Opposition called it nickel and diming..
"They're not going to be saving a lot of money doing this, and this is going to further isolate our most vulnerable," said social services critic Nicole Rancourt.
Letters were sent out in April to notify people of the changes.
The government estimates the move will save $750,000 in 2017-18.