- The province anticipates that up to 10,000 people may require assistance now that federal pandemic funds have expired.
- Now that federal pandemic funding for individuals has ended, Nova Scotia’s income assistance program is preparing for an influx of people seeking financial assistance.
According to Community Services Department data, 40,000 people were on the provincial income assistance program in March 2020, but over 10,000 dropped out during the pandemic. According to the department, many received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or its successor, the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).
With the CRB ending on October 23, many people are expected to return to the province searching for financial assistance. Brandy Burke, a single mother from North Sydney with two teenage girls, is concerned about the impact federal funds will have on her application for provincial income support.
She received work insurance for most of the pandemic and the CRB only in October. Burke used the province’s centralized phone system this month to claim income support and received some assistance, but she will have to fax in her bank statement from last month to see if she qualifies for continued aid.
Only the last 30 days were considered. According to Joy Knight, executive director of employment support and income assistance for the Community Services Department, only income from the previous 30 days is considered when applying for provincial aid.
She stated that income assistance is supposed to be a last resort and that people who have access to federal or other funding sources are expected to use those first. However, she stated that each claim is assessed individually and that someone who received federal funds would most likely be eligible for provincial assistance after 30 days.
Burke said that in addition to the financial uncertainty she is currently facing as bills continue to show up, Nova Scotia’s centralized phone system for filing a claim is overwhelmed with people attempting to determine eligibility.
According to Fred Tilley, the Liberal MLA for Northside-Westmount, his office receives numerous phone system delays. “When people are filling out claims, especially for income assistance, it’s a very stressful time for them, and they need those answers fairly quickly,” he explained. “Right now, it takes several weeks for them to enter the system.”
Source: CBC News