NDP Social Services Critic says AISH changes puts recipients at financial risk

by Colin Smith

Changing the date on which Albertans receiving AISH and Income Support get their monthly payments may seem like a simple administrative move.

But the change, made by the provincial government without consulting the more than 67,000 AISH recipients and 60,000 who receive Income Supports could put them at financial risk, according to St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud, NDP Opposition Critic for Community and Social Services.

AISH and Income Support payments have been made a few days before the end of the month, a usual practice with social benefits. An annual payment schedule was issued, and one had been released for 2020.

A few days later the monthly payment date was changed to the first of the month, beginning in March.

A government statement said this was intended to provide a predictable and consistent payment date that would help recipients plan and budget for expenses.

“This decision is wrong and it will impact Albertans’ ability to pay rent, pay bills, buy groceries and so much more,” said Renaud.

She said her office has been inundated with phone calls, letters, and emails from people worried about the impact the change will have on their ability to pay their rent on time or get their transit passes at the beginning of the month.

“This is not a group of people who have a lot of savings or extra resources. These are very real problems.”

In its October budget, the UCP government announced it would stop indexing AISH and Income Support to the cost of living but would keep monthly payments at the same level, $1,685 for a single person.

In addition, it has altered the AISH Act so that major program changes can be made by the government without debate in the Legislature, according to Renaud.

“So there has been a long series of attacks on this group,” she said.

Renaud also pointed to the fact that changes push a twelfth of the AISH and IS budgets into the next fiscal year, about $189 million that will not show up as part of this year’s provincial budget deficit.

“This is a cruel and callous decision that treats Albertans on AISH and Income Support as numbers on a spreadsheet rather than human beings.”

Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney should reverse this decision and apologize for careless treatment of Albertans on AISH and Income Support, she believes.

“They need to stop and listen to the people who are going to be affected,” said Renaud.

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  1. This change will cause vulnerable disabled persons on AISH a lot of harm…

    The AB gov AISH payment is released at midnight to be direct deposited – what happens with the banks & you can verify this yourself – that deposit hits the accounts anywhere between 2 am & 6 pm if not later…

    The auto bill payments for mortgages – rents – condo fees – property taxes utilities etc – Those go through right at midnight before the AISH direct deposit hits the account…

    When the bank’s computer sees there is not enough funds to pay out in the account despite the fact there will be a deposit by AISH the same day – the payment going out goes NSF – it bounces…

    When the AISH funds hit the account – the NSF charges hit from the bank & from those where the payment has to go to… Along with this – there are late payment charges & major penalties for bouncing payments…

    The timing of some of these bills cannot be adjusted… Utility companies are refusing to move the bill payment date to the 2nd of the month – same with a lot of others…

    Landlords aren’t going to wait til the 2nd for their money when its legislated by law that they get paid on the 1st… Landlord & Tenant Act…

    This detrimental change is being dumped in the laps of the most vulnerable – This deposit date change has put a lot of people on AISH in harms way…

    To make sure AISH clients can be financially responsible & able to budget their funds appropriately – the direct deposit of the AISH funds have to be in the accounts before the 1st… This has been done for the last 35+ years & not changed…

    This change was done without consulting the banks, persons on AISH or anyone else…

    This is a very bad case of fixing something that wasn’t broken…

    The payments should come out on the 28th or last day of the month… Its common sense…

  2. The UCP said This policy change was to put AISH on a more dependable and predictable pay structure. We already had a dependable and predictable pay structure and it was the fourth last business day before the end of the month. The only exception to it being the fourth date was December and January benefits were being issued a week before Christmas so people with children could have a Christmas. This did create some problems for some people, and the saving grace was the GST would be issued in the beginning of January. So this move by the UCP is very cruel and heartless towards the families of people with disabilities.

    The dates for issuing the payments four days before the end of the month have been in place since AISH and income support has been in place. And the reason that was for people to be able to pay their bills on time.

    I will admit there is some abuse by some people but that is more on income support than on AISH. And the people abusing the system is a very small percentage that is not any justification for this move.

    This change has nothing to do with AISH and everything to do with Kenney being afraid of another credit downgrade. So the UCP deferred Aprils benefit payments to April 1st after the fiscal year that ends at the end of March and it will reduce the deficit for one year.

    So once again the UCP has used people with disabilities. And in the world of the UCP, we are not worthy of any consideration or understanding. Once again we are just the little black-eyed peas in another one of their political shell games.

    And I’ll end with if either of our local (Medicine hat) MLAs wants to refute this. I would like to see them offer a real justified and believable reason for creating this mess. Because I am in the world that they messed up with all my bills being three business days before the end of the month. And I set it up like that because we used to have a dependable and predictable pay structure.

    This abuse from the UCP towards people with disabilities must stop.

    Remember, any government ceases to be civilized when it perverts its authority to abuse the people it is elected to serve.

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