CBC News: Nova Scotia's $20-a-month income assistance increase panned

Posted April 21, 2016

A woman on income assistance says the province's $20 increase to her monthly allowance is a joke that will do little to help her pay for essentials such as groceries.  
 
The province announced the increase in its 2016 budget, which will affect 24,000 Nova Scotians on income assistance.
 
"That's funny, $20," said Bonnie Barrett a Halifax woman on income assistance. "What's $20 going to get you nowadays?" 
 
Barrett is also the Halifax chair for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also known as ACORN. The group fights for social and economic justice in nine cities across the country. 
 
The high cost of living cheap
 
She is on income assistance because of her health. She suffers from severe osteoarthritis, tendonitis in her feet, and uses a walker to get around. The ailments keeps her from working. 
 
She says he believes politicians need to learn exactly how costly things are.  
 
"They just got to get out there and go to the grocery stores and start writing down all these things and the prices, because the only thing we can afford is stuff that's older, when the prices go down," she said.   
 
"Half the time some people go in and they get stuff and it's bad and they can't use it. Or they use it and they get sick. It's horrible all the way around."  
 
The $20 monthly increase will cost the province $7.5 million. 
 
On Tuesday Finance Minister Randy Delorey said the increase to income assistance was "the single largest increase in the province's history." 
 
Money spread thin
 
Right now Barrett gets about $480 a month from the government. Once she pays her bills, she says she's left with about $100. 
 
"The rest is used for food and clothing," she said. "I don't go shopping for clothing because I just don't have that money to, so I have to use the rest for food during the week. 
 
"It's really hard to keep up with the food end of it really."  
 
She said the amount of money given to people on income assistance to buy food hasn't increased in about 20 years. Barrett thinks that needs to be increased in order to help people be survive. 
 
"They should raise that stuff to the economy," she said. 
 
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Article by David Burke for CBC News