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Social assistance cuts worry people with disabilities, poverty advocates in Sask.
Published Monday, August 8, 2016 6:21PM CST
People with disabilities in Saskatchewan are being forced to tighten their belts as the province cuts back social assistance payments.
Brad Cavanagh, 57, is unable to work after severe back problems, which were made worse by a fall at his old job, and a failed surgery to fix it.
His doctor says there are no treatment options available, and he will likely be in pain for the rest of his life.
Now, Cavanaugh has another obstacle to face, he received a letter in the mail informing him that he is one of hundreds of people in Saskatchewan whose disability payments are being reduced.
“That would leave me about $150 for food, clothing, toothpaste, whatever, for a month,” he said.
Cavanaugh says he must find a new place to live because he can no longer afford his rent.
Peter Gilmer, an advocate with the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry, says dozens of people on permanent disability are now wondering how they will make ends meet.
“We think that this really is picking on some of the most vulnerable people in the province,” Gilmer said.
The cuts to social assistance come as the province grapples with a precipitous drop in revenue from non-renewable resources, such as oil and potash.
“They’re not the reason why the Sask. Party is running a deficit, yet they’re the ones who are going to have to pay,” said the NDP’s Nicole Sarauer.
The minister of social services was not available to comment Monday. But in a written statement, Donna
Harpauer estimates about 2,700 people will see their benefits reduced.
"Right now, our priority is reaching all of our impacted clients to ensure they receive the information and support they need to successfully navigate the future changes," Harpauer said in the statement.
She says support could include help with moving costs and advice on managing a budget.
Based on a report by CTV Regina’s Dale Hunter