Some Edmontonians who rely on Income Support programs from the province say they are bracing themselves for difficult financial situations.
Starting this month, payments for AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) and Income Support programs will be made on the first of the month. Previously, the payments were made a few days before the end of the month.
Jacqulyn Gaschnitz, 36, has been on the Barriers to Full Employment program for eight years. She said the payments before the month’s end better allowed her to pay rent, bills and other costs such as a monthly bus pass, which she typically bought in advance.
“Now you don’t get paid until the first. The bus driver will give you one day’s grace on a bus pass,” she said.
“I had to scrounge for change today just to be able to get down there to buy my bus pass.”
Gaschnitz said she will have to make adjustments to the due date on bills to ensure they can be paid on time. She is also used to paying her rent early as opposed to the first of the month.
“It looks good on you to pay your rent early. You’re able to get a good reference. Being on a fix income, it’s hard to find a place when you’re on a fixed income. Nobody really wants to rent to you,” she said.
Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney said she has talked to her staff to help recipients with the transition.
“My department staff is in touch with them. They are also encouraged to talk to their caseworkers as well. I’ve always encouraged everyone to call the disability advocate as well,” Sawhney said.
The Opposition NDP said the impacts were predictable.
“What you’re seeing right now is what we were saying is going to happen — what they were warning,” said NDP Community and Social Services Critic Marie Renaud.
“We warned. We said, ‘Look, this has the potential of happening,’ and it’s happening.”
As for Gaschnitz, she said she doesn’t believe the payment changes will benefit those who rely on them.
“It’s unfortunate that people who are like me, in my situation, now have to wait longer,” she said.