Building Strong Families And Communities By Supporting Those In Need
The Ministry of Social Services’ budget will increase by $50.6 million in 2020-21, bringing the total budget to $1.286 billion, a 4.1 per cent increase from 2019-20.
“Our government is working on building a strong Saskatchewan for all, where everyone can get the support they need,” Social Services Minister Paul Merriman said. “We are continuing our investment in community organizations that deliver services on our behalf, because they are critical in helping create positive outcomes and better lives for the people we serve.”
Increased funding of $10.9 million to third party service providers includes:
- $6.8 million increase for service providers that work with people with intellectual disabilities, plus an additional $1.0 million increase for client transportation for day programs and other activities;
- $2.5 million increase for service providers that support at-risk children, youth and families; and
- an increase of $621,000 for Approved Private Service Homes that care for people with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues.
Merriman said this year’s budget again focuses on working to make Saskatchewan the best place in Canada for people with disabilities.
- $10 million increase for the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability, or SAID, program to continue to support people with significant and enduring disabilities; and
- $10.9 million increase to address current and anticipated needs of people with intellectual disabilities, including youth with intellectual disabilities transitioning into adult programs, and to increase access to respite for caregivers.
- Social Services is also providing $1.0 million to SaskAbilities for repairs and improvements to Camp Easter Seal, which provides summer camp programs for children, youth and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Another $350,000 in new funding will enhance communication services delivered by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Inc. The funding will provide support for roles including a DeafBlind Intervenor, American Sign Language Interpreters and Sign Support Professionals. This investment builds on the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy by improving access to communication supports that people need to live and participate in their communities.
The province is continuing to invest in Child and Family Programs to ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable children.
- an increase of $3.2 million to support children and youth with developmental and complex behavioral needs through private treatment and two new group homes;
- an increase of $2.5 million for family supports, including outreach and in-home supports;
- an increase of $1.8 million to the supported family living program that helps keep at-risk families together;
- an increase of $1.4 million for foster families, who will continue to be eligible for additional monthly payments when they complete specific training; and
- an additional $356,000 to increase basic maintenance rates for foster care, extended family care and assisted adoption by 1.0 per cent effective July 1, 2020.
The Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) program was launched in July 2019 for new income assistance clients. It is designed to help people receiving income assistance overcome challenges, earn more income, become more self-sufficient and start a career. The SIS budget will increase by $84.6 million to reflect the caseload in this program, as the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) and Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) wind down. Applications are now being accepted for the new Saskatchewan Housing Benefit.
The province will provide $3.4 million as a 50/50 cost-match with the federal government under the National Housing Strategy, resulting in total funding of up to $6.8 million. The benefit will target eligible individuals or families that require rental support.
Social Services has also responded to the impact of the COVID-19 virus on our province’s most vulnerable citizens with a number of pandemic-specific programs. The estimated cost of these initiatives is $6.4 million and they will be managed within the ministry’s overall 2020-21 budget of $1.286 billion.
- $1.1 million toward a supplementary respite payment of $100 per month for four months to support caregivers of people with intellectual disabilities, including families caring for Community Living Service Delivery clients, families currently receiving the Family Respite benefit and Approved Private Service Home proprietors, including Mental Health Approved Home proprietors in response to the reduced respite options available during the COVID-19 lockdown.
- $2.0 million for a one-time $50 benefit distributed in addition to regular benefits in April for clients receiving SIS, SAID, SAP and TEA to help cover extra COVID-19 related expenses.
- One-time total additional funding of $171,000 to emergency shelters to help address extra cost pressures for services and supplies related to COVID-19.
- $1.3 million to provide an additional $300 one-time payment in June to family-based care providers, aligning with the federal government’s announcement of a one-time increase to the Canada Child Benefit.
- $1.7 million for placement spaces to prepare for new children entering care to minimize the potential spread of the virus.
- $145,000 for delaying transitions for youth aging out of care. Child and Family Programs will continue to provide supports to these youth to remain in their current placements, while continuing to receive financial supports and access to all services.
“We recognize the impact that COVID-19 has placed on many Saskatchewan citizens, as well as on organizations that support them,” Merriman said. “This government has taken a number of positive actions to reduce the financial and lifestyle effects on individuals and families already experiencing difficulties.”