Changes to Income Assistance Program to Help Low Income Nova Scotians

As Liberals, we want to build a stronger province where all Nova Scotians can grow and succeed. We want Nova Scotians to have the dignity, self-esteem, and self-confidence they need to enjoy productive and fulfilling lives.

Over the last four years, our government has reached out to many people and organizations who see first-hand what poverty does to lives.

Most importantly, we also reached out to Nova Scotians currently living in poverty – people receiving income assistance. We listened as they shared their struggles and how they want to be able to provide for themselves and their families.

Because of what our clients and others told us, we’ve been working to reshape the Department of Community Service’s culture so that programs and services put clients first. By doing so, supports can more effectively and consistently respond to the needs of the clients so they, in turn, can overcome challenges and move forward with their lives.

Our initial work has included increasing the personal allowance by $20 per month – an investment of $7.1 million. It’s the largest increase in the province’s history.

It has also included doubling allowable asset levels from $1,000 to $2,000 for individuals, and from $2,000 to $4,000 for families.

Today, we’re pleased to announce we are implementing more changes to help low-income Nova Scotians by introducing the new Personal Items Allowance. This will support people temporarily living in homeless shelters and transition houses. The allowance will be implemented in October, and will provide $101 every month to help buy essential items, including those for personal hygiene.

Earlier this month, we doubled the Poverty Reduction Credit from $250 to $500 annually, helping many single adults and couples without children, and giving more money to help with their basic needs.

We are also fully exempting child support payments as chargeable income when determining income assistance amounts for clients. This means that clients who receive child support will no longer have these payments deducted from their income assistance– which means more money for children, for whom it’s intended.

Clients have also told us they are nervous about securing employment because benefits decrease when their job earnings increase.

To help with this, we are introducing part one of the Standard Household Rate – a wage exemption – on October 1st. This will enable clients to keep more of the money they earn before seeing a reduction in their income assistance.

It will help clients stabilize their income while they transition into the workforce – and make it easier to work. This way, the more they work, the more financially stable they will become.

These changes will make a significant impact on the lives of those who need it, and they are a direct response to what clients, advocates and others have asked for. The kind of change that changes lives.

We know there is much more to do, but our government has made tangible progress – progress that is already benefiting Nova Scotians in need.

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