The Government of Saskatchewan has announced details of a new program that is meant to help people on income assistance become more self-sufficient and overcome challenges.

Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) will have features that will help clients transition to a more independent lifestyle. The new program will start accepting new clients on July 15.

Those currently on the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) or Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) will be kept on those programs until they are phased out in 2021.

The new program has some who work in the industry concerned; because they believe the money being made available won’t be enough.

Currently, SAP and TEA cover the cost of utilities for clients, but the new program puts the costs of rent, utilities, taxes and all other home related costs under a “Shelter Benefit,” meaning a single adult will have to pay for all the home related costs with just $575 a month.

"Bringing this in as the replacement, in many cases is actually going to make things worse”… “they're already taking money out of their basic adult allowance for food and clothing and personal and household needs to cover off the additional costs of their rent. And now on top of that, they're going to be having to pay for the cost of utilities,” Advocate with the Regina Anti-poverty Ministry Peter Gilmer said.

"Now we've rolled the utilities right into the shelter benefit without accounting for actual costs,” NDP MLA Carla Beck said

Features of the new program include monthly income exemptions that will allow clients to keep more of the money they make, motivational interviewing, a new online application and a simpler benefit to help staff have the time to spend with clients rather that filling out paperwork.

“In this new program, our staff will work closely with clients to help them increase their independence and overcome employment barriers,” Minister of Social Services Paul Merriman said. “We want to provide individuals who are on social assistance with the supports they need, while ensuring our programs are easier to navigate and addressing the challenges they face.

SAP and TEA will stop accepting new applications of July 15.