Education support programs cannot be supplemented by SIS
Shifting programs will be like going from sailing a yacht to a paper boat
by rayanne gwilliam, contributor
Until recently, the Provincial Training Allowance (PTA) has been available to assist applicants with educational training, work readiness, and employment training. Instead, those in need of such supports have been guided to apply for Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS), or in some cases, Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID).
SIS is somewhat of a controversial program, considering that in October 2021 a tent city emerged in Pepsi Park due to SIS replacing the Saskatchewan Assistance Programming (SAP). SIS, unlike SAP, gave cheques directly to residents rather than to the landlords so residents could have more autonomy over their spending. In an article written by Arthur White-Crummey with the Regina Leader-Post, many residents received less money than they received on SAP because costs of utilities and shelter were wrapped into one.
White-Crummey also visited a tent-city called Camp Hope. It was a place where people could go because programs like SIS were not working, creating more homelessness and poverty rather than eliminating it. While there are of course other homeless shelters in Regina, they had been found to fill up quickly as well. Global News reporter Daz Dhaliwal said options for people experiencing homelessness were sparse; while they offered to house people in hotels for two days, they would then be returned to the streets.
PTA had no income exceptions, which was something the government wanted to address. But the one provided from SIS is rather low, being under $400 per month. However, due to PTA not having an income exemption, one cannot be working while on it. Though, the training and or schooling had a good turn around for employment being achieved afterwards.
Unfortunately, SIS has had its fair share of other criticisms. The biggest regarding the switch from PTA to SIS that would involve a difficult application process, limitations based on the number of children one has, and the location they live in. As an example, if a family has more than three children, the amount received is the same as someone who only has three children. This is because the max amount given for children is listed as “three plus,” meaning the amount is the same regardless. In terms of location, both Saskatoon and Regina residents receive the same amount, as they’re the two largest cities for the shelter benefit. However, the rest of the province is lumped together to receive the same amount. This can be seen as problematic as there may be factors regarding housing not considered in smaller or rural areas such as cost of rent, quality of low-cost housing, pay, and hours available work-wise to eventually get off assistance.
Another thing to consider are the frequent complaints about the ability to survive off minimum wage, being that Saskatchewan has the lowest rate in Canada. This includes those on disability as well who are historically in the most underemployed sectors of society, leaving many at the mercy of these programs. This often leads to also being on food stamps, having a lower quality of care, and a lower quality of life, as there’s often very minimal ability if any for hobbies, social outings, and the like.
Lastly, it’s important to consider those in high needs of medication and or medical care who need to worry about travel expenses or coverage for health needs, such as the elderly or pregnant people for example. These factors among many others are what have led to concerns from landlords as well, as it damages their profit when people can’t afford to pay, and it denies the tenants a home – something which should be considered a basic human right.
Instead, it is often not considered, as anyone who is not able to work to provide revenue to the society they live in often lives in lower quality conditions. From a business standpoint they become a liability in terms of what they cost, as profit incentivizes welfare. Hence why, until recently, and only after much scrutiny, it was adjusted to have direct payments to landlords and utilities again.