Some recipients of social assistance in Saskatchewan are beginning to receive letters informing them of how much they will lose following budget cuts.
In the budget, the government announced it will be making changes to several programs to create fairness and increase equity for those receiving help.
The biggest change is to the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program, of which Brad Cavanaugh is a recipient.
He has been unable to work due to back issues and a slip at work that exacerbated the problem.
Cavanaugh has been told his support of $609 for shelter will be reduced by around $150.
“I don’t know where I will find a place to live for $450 a month,” Cavanaugh said. “How am I supposed to pay for my rent? How can I live like this?”
Cavanaugh believes he will have to start making a choice between rent or food.
The government is defending its decision to make these changes, arguing the current suite of social assistance programs are complex and need to be simplified.
Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer contends the programs aren’t fair, with people in the same vulnerable circumstance often receiving different amounts.
“If you look at case-by-case we’ve got two cases that could be identical, with two different benefit amounts so there is a fairness inequity,” Harpauer explained.
“In some cases we have some receiving more for a shelter than their rent is, because they have stacked or double-dipped.”
The government says it recognizes the changes will cause challenges to around 2,700 people that will be impacted. That number is roughly 3.9 per cent of social assistance and income supplement cases.