P.E.I. social assistance changes allow Islanders to earn more without affecting benefits

Changes also allow Islanders to have greater savings while still receiving benefits

Tina Mundy, minister of Family and Human Services, says the changes are part of the provincial government’s Poverty Reduction Action Plan. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Changes to P.E.I.’s social assistance program will loosen the restrictions on Islanders receiving benefits.

The provincial government announced the changes on Thursday as part of its Poverty Reduction
Action Plan.

The changes include:

  • Allowing Islanders to have more savings — and earn more income — while still receiving social assistance benefits.
  • No longer counting child support payments as income so they won’t affect benefits.
  • Preparing clients for the workforce with life skills and job training.
  • Helping clients transition to their new jobs by extending their medical, dental, and optical benefits for up to 24 months, and offering other assistance like money for new clothes for a job interview.
  • Adding a toll-free phone number as a single point of contact for easier access to government’s social programs.

A single person will now be able to earn $250 a month plus 30 per cent of any additional income without having social assistance benefits reduced. This is up from $75 a month plus 10 per cent of additional income.

Couples can earn $400 a month plus 30 per cent of any additional income, up from $125 a month and 10 per cent.

An Islander with a disability can earn $500 a month plus 30 per cent of any additional income, up from $125 a month and 10 per cent.

Increase in liquid assets exemption

The changes also allow a single person to have up to $2,500 of liquid assets and still receive social assistance benefits. This is up from $50 of liquid assets.

It increases to $3,500 in liquid assets for a single person with dependent children, plus $500 for each dependent. That’s up from $900, plus $300 for each dependent.

Couples can have $5,000 in liquid assets, plus $500 or each dependent. That’s up from $1,200 and $300 per dependent.

For an Islander with a disability, the liquid asset exemption increases to $5,000 from $900.

A couple with a disability can have $10,000 in liquid assets, plus $500 for each dependent, up from $1,800 plus $300 per dependent.

$750 to get ready for work

Islanders may also receive up to $750 to buy clothes for a job interview, get a driver’s license, or to overcome any other barrier to starting work.

Islanders who leave social assistance for a job on P.E.I. will receive medical, dental and optical benefits for the first 24 months. These benefits may be extended beyond 24 months if losing them becomes a barrier to keeping your job.

Tina Mundy, the province’s minister of family and human services, said she doesn’t anticipate the changes will lead to more Islanders on social assistance.

“The design of the program is to get people off of social assistance, to have them connected to the community, the social community, have a network around them, gaining confidence, gaining self reliance.”

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