On March 22, the province released its 2023-24 budget and announced the Ministry of Social Services will see an increase of $46.7 million.
“This year’s Social Services budget increases supports for vulnerable people and families as they build a better life,” said Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky in a release. “Targeted funding provides higher monthly benefits for clients, increased funding for partners in service delivery and new initiatives to support positive outcomes for Saskatchewan people.”
The province stated for the second year in a row, SIS clients will receive higher monthly benefits. This program will receive an additional $14.3 million in SIS benefit payments to clients. Those who receive the Adult Basic Benefit and Shelter Benefit will each increase by $30 per month and clients who use alternative heat sources will also see a $30 increase.
The SAID program will increase benefit payments by $6.4 million where SAID clients will receive $30 more per month in living income benefits. During Monday’s question period scrum, the Saskatchewan NDP MLA Meara Conway announced the launch of a petition calling on the province to increase rates.
“This program has not seen an increase in seven years,” said Conway, the social services critic. “No increase through the dramatic rise in the cost of living, the pandemic and the most recent, inflationary crisis.”
SAID recipient Sean Hargreaves said the increase is not very significant especially with the costs of living.
“Thirty dollars on your minimum benefits from SAID isn’t really going to do a whole lot,” he said. “It’s long overdue … I’m sure it will help out some people (but) speaking for myself, it’s not a lot … I’m going to complain and not take it but it’s really not much in the grand scheme of things.”
According to the province, since 2007-08, government funding for people with disabilities has increased by an estimated $502.9 million or 234.0 per cent. The 2023-24 budget includes $717.8 million, an increase of $38.8 million for enhanced programming and increased program utilization for people with disabilities.