Changes to Income Assistance Program Will Help Nova Scotians Living on Low Incomes

Nova Scotians living on low incomes will soon be able to earn and keep more money thanks to a number of investments by government.

The Department of Community Services is introducing the new Personal Items Allowance, to support people temporarily living in homeless shelters and transition houses. The allowance, which will be implemented in October, will provide $101 every month to help buy essential items, including those for personal hygiene.

“We want all Nova Scotians to have the dignity, self-esteem and self-confidence they need to move their lives forward,” said Kelly Regan, Minister of Community Services. “That’s why we’re changing the way we work with Nova Scotia’s most vulnerable people. We want to provide people living on low incomes the resources they need, and for those who can work, we want to provide the supports they need to join the workforce.”

The Poverty Reduction Credit is doubling, from $250 to $500 annually, helping many single adults and couples with no children. It gives them more money to help with basic needs. The first adjusted cheques were issued on July 4 and were retroactive to April 1.

Clients on income assistance will no longer have child support payments deducted from their monthly payments. The first adjusted cheques will be issued Aug. 1.

“We know that women are disproportionately impacted by low wage, contingent work and that a flexible income security system that bolsters women’s economic security is vital to their well-being,” said Miia Suokonautio, executive director of the YWCA. “We are excited about what these reforms will mean for Nova Scotians, particularly those living in the hardest poverty.”

On Oct. 1, the province will introduce part one of the Standard Household Rate, a wage exemption that will allow clients to keep more of the money they earn before seeing a reduction in their income assistance. This will help clients stabilize their income while they move into the workforce. This way, the more they work, the more financially stable they will become.

“We are encouraged by today’s announcement that individuals staying in a shelter will be eligible to receive a personal items allowance. Until now, people staying in a shelter haven’t had access to funding for their personal needs.” said Melissa Phillips, director of homelessness, Shelter Nova Scotia. “Single adults represent the majority of people we serve and we are pleased to see benefits like the Poverty Reduction Credit directly impact many of these individuals.

“These changes will lessen the burden of poverty, and assist with the transition from homelessness to housing.”

The changes represent an $11 million investment by the province.