Sask. announces new social assistance program to replace 2 others
Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) and Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) will cease in 2021
The provincial government has announced a new social assistance plan that will replace the current Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) and Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) programs.
The new plan, Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS), begins accepting clients on July 15.
The newly-crafted program has the government boasting of a "simpler, transparent, client-friendly" program for people.
"I haven't met anybody that's been on social assistance that wants to be there," Social Services Minister Paul Merriman said.
"We want to be able to help them get back to that point where they don't need social assistance. Our clients are very proud and they want to become independent and we want to be able to help them get there."
New exemptions to monthly-earned income are meant to help people enrolled in the program keep more of their own money in their pockets as they gain employment.
"Right now on the TEA program you're not allowed any earning exemptions. We're going to anticipate that some people are going to move over to the new system voluntarily to be able to access the earning exemptions," Merriman said.
People will be able to apply online and a simplified benefit program will allow staff, through "Motivational Interviewing," to counsel and advise clients instead of filling out more paperwork.
Merriman said government staff have received Motivational Interview training and said the early feedback has been positive.
"We will shift our emphasis from paperwork to people."
Merriman said the province's income assistance program is 50 years old and "outdated".
According to the minister, there are about 22,000 people on SAP and TEA. Merriman said there are between 5,000 to 6,000 people going on and off TEA annually.
The SIS program consists of two "core benefits." The basic benefit covers things like food, clothing and household needs. The shelter benefit covers rent and utilities.
The adult basic benefit is $285 per month. The single adult shelter benefit for Saskatoon and Regina is $575 per month.
The monthly earned income exemption for a single adult under the new system is $325. This means someone on the program could earn as much as $325 working in a month without their benefits being cut back.
People currently using the SAP and TEA will remain on those programs until they make the switch or until those programs end in the summer of 2021.
There will be no new applications accepted for SAP and TEA beyond July 15.
The Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) will remain in place as is.