Budget Delivers Right Balance To Support Vulnerable People
The Government of Saskatchewan will invest an additional $55.5 million in Social Services in 2019-20, increasing the ministry’s budget by 4.7 per cent to a record $1.23 billion.
“Finding the right balance for Saskatchewan means ensuring that we continue to deliver programs and services that make a real, lasting difference in the lives of those we serve,” Social Services Minister Paul Merriman said. “With the 2019-20 Social Services budget, our government is making key investments in programs that help vulnerable children, families, adults and seniors achieve a better quality of life, while at the same time we balance the budget and ensure the sustainability of our programs for the future.”
Merriman said the government is continuing to work toward making Saskatchewan the best place in Canada for people with disabilities by improving and increasing funding for the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program.
The ministry’s income assistance budget will increase by $10 million, including a $6.3 million increase for SAID. The remaining $3.7 million reflects overall program costs and a further investment in service delivery.
The ministry will also simplify the way income exemptions are calculated and increase them, so SAID beneficiaries who are able to work can keep more of what they earn. Currently, exemptions are calculated monthly and are equivalent to annual amounts of $3,900 for individuals, $5,100 for couples and $2,400 for families. Beginning in Summer 2019, these exemptions will be calculated annually and will increase to $6,000 per year for individuals, $7,200 for couples and $8,500 for families.
Social Services will increase funding to third-party agencies that deliver services on behalf of the ministry by $5.9 million in 2019-20:
- Through a new investment of $1.4 million, foster families will be eligible for additional monthly payments once they complete specific training to increase their caregiving skills;
- Third-party agencies that deliver services to children and families will receive an increase for frontline caregivers through an investment of $889,000;
- Third-party agencies providing support for people with intellectual disabilities will benefit from a new investment of $2.6 million, which includes an increase for frontline caregivers;
- Approved Private Service Homes caring for adults with intellectual disabilities or mental health challenges will receive an increase for frontline caregivers through an investment of $260,000; and
- $800,000 will fund training programs for people in third-party agencies who deliver services to those with intellectual disabilities.
Supports for at-risk children and families will increase by $27.7 million in 2019-20:
- $23.5 million will enhance the range of services that help keep children safe, including intensive direct services for families to help keep their children safely at home, community-based homes and group homes, and private treatment for children with high needs;
- An additional $2.7 million will help the ministry respond to the number of children and families who require support;
- A new investment of $1.2 million will expand the intensive supported living initiative, which provides housing and 24/7 supports to children and families to strengthen caregiving skills and keep families safely together; and
- Sanctum Care Group will receive funding of $600,000, $300,000 each from the Ministries of Social Services and Health, for the Sanctum 1.5 prenatal care home in Saskatoon that helps at-risk mothers learn to care for and safely parent their newborns.
- An increase of $6.6 million will continue the ministry’s support for adults with intellectual disabilities:
- $3.5 million will be used to transition youth with intellectual disabilities from child and family services to adult disability services;
- An additional $2.6 million will provide residential and day programming services to high-needs adults who urgently require services; and
- New funding of $500,000 will continue to improve access to respite supports for families caring for adult children with intellectual disabilities.
The 2019-20 Social Services budget includes $3.2 million to transition the remaining residents of Valley View Centre into new homes in communities around the province. The government’s ongoing partnership with the Valley View Centre Family Legacy Network and Inclusion Saskatchewan has ensured a thoughtful, planned approach to moving residents. Valley View Centre is scheduled to close in December 2019.
As part of the review of the province’s income assistance programs, Social Services will launch a new program this summer for new clients. The Saskatchewan Income Support, or SIS, program will focus on helping people overcome their challenges so they can start a career or become more self-sufficient to the best of their abilities. SIS will include increased earned income exemptions so people can keep more of what they earn as they transition to independence. Simplifying how income exemptions are calculated was discussed during meetings with stakeholders that were held following the commitment made in the 2018 Throne Speech. Details of the new program are being finalized and will be announced closer to the implementation date.