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Low-income transit riders face impact from AISH and income support payment changes

A file photo of buses in Calgary.
A file photo of buses in Calgary. Global News

The City of Calgary is looking at ways of helping people deal with the impacts of a provincial decision that is targeting recipients of Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) and income support payments.

The UCP government has decided that beginning March 1, those who receive AISH and income support will be getting their payments on the first of each month. Currently, the payments are made a few days before the beginning of the month.

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READ MORE: Payment changes to AISH and Income Support Benefits causing issues for recipients

That move will impact a huge number of people in Calgary who rely on a low-income transit pass to get around.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi questioned the move.

“This is not a good change, it’s really disruptive to some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” he said.

“People who are living below the poverty line typically have very good financial management, they know exactly what day the bills are due and how much money they’re going to have, and what feels like a small change for people who don’t have to live minute to minute, can actually be a hugely consequential change to vulnerable people.”

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Since March 1 is a Sunday, provincial payments will be made on Feb. 28 and the city is looking at opening a location next weekend to make passes available.

Nenshi said Calgary is looking at what can be done when the first of the month falls on a weekday.

“How are you going to get to the place where you buy your bus pass without having to pay another fare?” he asked. “And how are you going to be able to waste your whole day in line because everybody is buying their pass on the same day?”

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Nenshi said he wonders if council should make bylaw changes to allow people to use their old pass on the first of the month while they go buy a new pass.