by Morinville News Staff
The NDP is calling on Premier Jason Kenney and the UCP government to follow British Columbia’s lead and increase support to those receiving Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH).
British Columbia announced last week that it was providing an additional $300 to those receiving assistance and disability payments that are not eligible for the federal programs.
Income support in Alberta is $900 a month, AISH recipients get $1,685 a month. Those on income support and AISH did not qualify for the province’s Emergency Isolation Support (EIS). That program has now ended. Premier Jason Kenney said Monday that the province paid out $91.7 million in emergency payments in less than two weeks, an amount almost double the $50 million the government estimated it would disburse.
In addition to calling the closure of the EIS program an abandonment of Albertans looking for support, the Official Opposition is calling on the government to strengthen income support and AISH.
“During times of emergency and crisis, it is always the most vulnerable Albertans who are in the greatest danger,” said NDP Community and Social Services Critic Marie Renaud. “These Albertans are at high-risk and they have no choice but to self-isolate. If the province won’t provide emergency support payments, Jason Kenney should at least take a page out of B.C.’s book, step up, and provide some extra help.”
The NDP says that because many Albertans on AISH or income support also work part-time to help make ends meet, they have also been affected by the loss of jobs. Although they can apply for the new $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the NDP says the federal support is deducted automatically from their monthly provincial assistance.
By contrast, B.C. is temporarily exempting federal benefits from being counted as income, which allows those receiving income and disability assistance to receive federal support programs without reductions.
“These Albertans are already trying to get by on poverty-level incomes. It is not fair to have their support clawed back when they are experiencing the same hardship as so many other people struggling with this crisis,” Renaud said. “Again, Jason Kenney needs to follow B.C.’s lead and ensure there is no clawback.”