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Sask. overhauls social assistance programs; benefits change for thousands
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, July 31, 2017 12:57PM CST
The Saskatchewan government is changing how people on social assistance get help paying for home repairs or special diets.
A home repair benefit is being cut to save the government about $260,000 a year and instead people will have to apply to the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation's emergency repair program.
Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor says that means homeowners would be responsible for things like a broken faucet, but a broken furnace would be an emergency and covered with a forgivable loan.
More than 1,300 people who get a special 3,000-plus calorie diet benefit will now have be assessed by a dietitian, who will cost out a diet specific to someone's medical condition.
The province is also changing how it recovers cash from about 10,300 people who were overpaid through social assistance programs.
Beaudry-Mellor says the province will take back $10 more a month up to a maximum of $110.
"As stewards of public dollars, we have to make sure the benefit levels are correct and so we have to recover the amount, whatever that overpayment was," she said Monday.
The government hopes to save $1.2 million with the increased overpayment recovery rate.
The changes will come into effect Oct. 1.
They're part of a program review announced in the March budget as the government struggles to tackle a $1.2 billion deficit. The deficit is due in large part to the ongoing impact of low resource prices on the provincial economy.