More Help For Low-income Nova Scotians

Department of Community Services

October 26, 2010 6:04 PM

Thousands of low-income Nova Scotians who rely on government help to make ends meet will soon find it easier to regain their independence and pay for family priorities.

The province is making changes to the Employment Support and Income Assistance Program to help make life better for Nova Scotians in every region.

"We worked with our partners to identify priorities that can make the greatest difference in the lives of families," said Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse. "We will continue working with people on income assistance and with poverty advocates to improve our program so it supports people who can work, find work, and those most vulnerable to help them get the lasting support they need."

Improvements will help ensure people are not denied benefits because of decisions made in the best interests of their families. For example, shelter benefits will not be reduced when a youth turns 19, if the youth is a college or university student living at home.

As well, people on income assistance, who move in with a partner, will keep a substantial portion of their benefits for the first year of the relationship.

Families should also have some savings for emergencies. The amount of money people can keep in assets, such as savings, will double.

Eye exams will also now be fully funded.

These changes, an investment of about $1 million, were highlighted today, Oct. 26, at the Health Promotion Clearinghouse Poverty Conference. They are part of efforts to break the poverty cycle and help Nova Scotians.

"This government is doing things differently," said Ms. Peterson-Rafuse."We are making life better for families while ensuring government lives within its means. That is what has led to the right decisions here, as well as our $50-million investment in affordable housing, the Affordable Living Tax Credit and the Poverty Reduction Credits.

"These credits represent a $72-million investment in the people of Nova Scotia in the first year of government's mandate."

Other efforts to help Nova Scotia's most vulnerable include:
-- Removing the provincial portion of the HST from children's shoes, clothing and diapers
-- Creating 400 additional child-care subsidies and 300 child-care spaces
-- Removing security deposits for seniors moving into nursing homes
-- Increasing the Seniors Property Tax Rebate by $200 per year
-- Investing $14 million to help 3,800 people access adult learning programs and post-secondary education during the economic downtown
-- Investing $250,000 to help develop public transit services in rural and under-serviced areas.

The department will also consult with interested parties on ways to improve service delivery. An important first step will be to change the way Nova Scotians access programs by simplifying the application process. Applicants will only have to provide basic personal information once to be considered for a range of programs and services.

Changes to the program take effect Jan. 1, 2011. Changes to service delivery will be phased in over 12 to 18 months.

The Employment Support and Income Assistance Program helps low-income Nova Scotians with financial assistance for basic needs, and provides support and services to help people move toward self-sufficiency. For more information, go to www.gov.ns.ca/coms .


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     Thousands of low-income Nova Scotians who rely on government

help to make ends meet will soon find it easier to regain their

independence and pay for family priorities.

     Improvements to the Employment Support and Income Assistance

Program will help ensure people are not being denied benefits

because of decisions made in the best interests of their

families.

     Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse says the

changes are based on feed back from people on income assistance

and poverty advocates.

     The improvements, a one-million-dollar investment, are part

of government efforts to make life better for families while

living within its means.

     They take effect January 2011.

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Media Contact: Susan Tate
              Community Services
              902-424-4038
              E-mail: tatese@gov.ns.ca