News Release Archive

The provincial takeover of social services from the four metro
area municipalities spells some good news for people on social
assistance, Community Services Minister Jim Smith said today.

Food rates for families and children are being increased across
the board. On average a family will have $25. to $40. more a
month to spend on food. (For example a single parent with two
children living in Dartmouth, Halifax County or Bedford will
receive an increase of $25. a month.)

Shelter rates for families and children have been harmonized and
in most cases increased, the minister said. For example, family
living in Dartmouth will see an increase in the money allocated
for rent or accommodation.

Access to prescription drugs is being expanded to include clients
in new areas and being improved through the use of Nova Scotia
health card. Access will be easier because clients will be able
to obtain prescription medicine in their own neighbourhoods at
their local drugstore.

Policies throughout the metro region are being harmonized
resulting in less confusion for clients. "The benefits for
families and children are real. The increases recognize the
challenges of bringing up children in 1990s'," said Dr. Smith.
"Two thirds of the children in the metro area will see an
increase and a direct benefit."

A shelter rate for new, single clients entering the system after
April 1, 1996, has been established. This rate, $225 a month,
matches the rate currently being paid to single clients in
Halifax County and the rest of the province. For persons with a
disability that rate can be increased to a maximum of $400. This
top-up provision for persons with disabilities recognizes that
they may have extra requirements, the minister said.

This harmonized rate for single, clients entering the system
after April 1. It does not affect single clients already in the
system who will see no change in their current benefits.

Dr. Smith said that over the next several months the province
will work with federal officials and other stakeholders to
develop new programs to help young single people obtain training
and employment. "Often these clients face real barriers in making
their way to employment," he said. "We have to support them. We
want to make sure that they have the chance to upgrade their
skills and be job-ready."

Clients will continue to be informed of any changes by direct
mail and by discussions with their caseworker. Throughout the
planning for the provincial takeover the province has taken care
to ensure that clients retain the same caseworker, visit the same
office and access services from the same phone number.

"We have minimized disruption and throughout this process we have
put the clients' needs first," Dr. Smith said.


Contact: Margaret Murphy  902-424-4880 or cellular 499-8569

trp                    Mar. 20, 1996 - 10:00 a.m.