Protecting And Supporting Saskatchewan's Most Vulnerable
The Ministry of Social Services' budget will protect and support those most in need in the coming year with increased funding of $54.5 million in 2021-22, bringing the total budget to $1.34 billion, a 4.2 per cent increase from 2020-21.
"We have worked hard to provide a budget that will continue to fulfill our government's commitments to help vulnerable children, families, adults and seniors achieve a better quality of life," Social Services Minister Lori Carr said. "This year, through increased funding for low income seniors and additional investments to support those in the disability community, we are helping our clients build better lives for themselves, by helping them become independent and assisting with everyday living."
The province is meeting its commitments to:
- increase benefits to seniors through an increase of $3.5 million for the Seniors Income Plan (SIP). This investment will help low income Saskatchewan seniors enjoy a better quality of life, with maximum payments increasing by $30 a month. This is the sixth increase government has made to SIP since 2008. The increase takes effect July 1, 2021.
- further grow communication services delivered by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Inc. with increased funding this year of $246,000. The funding will provide support for roles including American Sign Language Interpreters and a Deafblind Intervener to help connect those who are Deafblind to information and services.
- The ministry will also provide increased funding of $6.7 million to third-party service providers, including a $4.2 million increase for service providers who work with people with intellectual disabilities and a $2.5 million increase for those supporting at-risk children, youth and families.
Carr said this year's budget continues the focus on working to make Saskatchewan the best place in Canada for people with disabilities. It contains:
- a $19 million increase for the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID), program to continue to support people with significant and enduring disabilities; and
- a $9.1 million increase to address current and anticipated needs of people with intellectual disabilities.
These investments build on the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy by improving access to supports that people with disabilities need in order to live and participate in their communities.
The province is continuing to invest in Child and Family Programs to ensure the protection and well-being of vulnerable children. Investments include:
- an increase of $8.2 million for new residential care spaces to support children and youth with developmental and complex behavioral needs through private treatment and group homes;
- a $1.6 million increase to implement Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE), Levels of Pay Phase II - a specialized training program that supports foster families to care for children with more intensive needs;
- a $3.0 million increase to support more extended family caregivers in the important work they do to help children in their care remain connected to their culture and community; and
- a $1.4 million increase for services aimed at preventing children from coming into the care of the ministry, such as in-home family supports; and
- an additional $500,000 investment to Sanctum 1.5 to support high risk expectant mothers with enhanced outreach and coordination of services.
The ministry's 2021-22 budget continues to build stability for those in need. It provides $619 million for income assistance programs, including the Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) program launched in 2019 to help people receiving income assistance overcome challenges, start a career, earn more income, become more self-sufficient and participate in their community to the best of their ability.
The Saskatchewan Housing Benefit, launched in 2019, will expand eligibility requirements to serve more individuals and families who require rental support. In 2021-22, the benefit will be expanded to serve clients who pay 40 per cent of their income on rent. The Saskatchewan Housing Benefit will provide up to $8.7 million in 2021-22 as a 50/50 cost-match with the federal government under the National Housing Strategy - an increase of $1.0 million in funding from the province.
Since March 2020, the ministry has worked hard to protect and support the province's vulnerable with challenges they faced due to the pandemic, including helping individuals who do not have the financial or social means to safely and effectively self-isolate due to the pandemic.
"COVID-19 has certainly had an impact on many Saskatchewan citizens, and it has been particularly challenging for those most in need in our province," Carr said. "The Ministry of Social Services is on the front line of Saskatchewan's pandemic response, and our offices throughout the province have remained open so our clients can continue to receive the valuable services and benefits they need."
The ministry's additional client support throughout the past year included:
- a one-time benefit to all income assistance clients to help with additional costs as a result of the pandemic;
- additional funding to emergency shelters to offset extra expenses related to COVID-19;
- additional financial support to caregivers of people with intellectual disabilities for respite services;
- creating interim policies in the Social Housing Program to help tenants experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic;
- supporting youth aging out of care during the COVID-19 pandemic to remain in their current homes in order to support their needs during the pandemic;
- ensuring foster families and extended family caregivers received the Canada Child Benefit top-up during the pandemic for their care and support to children and youth; and
- supporting those without the means to safely self-isolate.
As the province emerges from the pandemic, this budget will grow Saskatchewan by helping those who are most in need achieve a better quality of life.