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Southern Alberta family frustrated with AISH policy

Click to play video: 'Southern Alberta family frustrated with AISH policy'
Southern Alberta family frustrated with AISH policy
A southern Alberta family is pushing for change to some of Alberta’s social assistance programs after their circumstances left them in a major financial crunch. As Quinn Campbell tells us, it’s a situation the family hopes other Albertans don't end up in – Jul 6, 2023

Andrew Smith has been on Workers Compensation (WCB) since reinjuring his knee on the job 10 months ago.

Unable to work and still waiting for surgery, the father of six isn’t sure how his family will move forward after recently discovering his wife’s Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) has been cut way back after her case was reviewed last month.

“They said that because you are on WCB, you are going to lose some of your benefit. They never said you would lose half your benefit,” Smith said.

The Office of the Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services issued a statement to Global News saying it can’t comment on specific cases, but did confirm the reduction to benefits.

“A family can earn up to $2,612 per month from employment with no deductions to an individual’s AISH benefits. Whereas a spouse or partner receiving WCB can earn up to $875 per month with no deductions to their AISH benefits. Seventy-five per cent of any income earned over that amount would be deducted,” said Chinenye Anokwuru, senior press secretary.

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Now, the low-income family of eight is in financial hardship.

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“To wake up and find over a $1,000 not coming into the account to pay bills, it was terrifying,” said Smith.

The family contacted AISH to ask what can be done.

They were told the policies are set by the government, however the agency would do what it can to keep the family in their home.

Click to play video: 'AISH, other Alberta government benefit programs to be re-indexed starting in 2023'
AISH, other Alberta government benefit programs to be re-indexed starting in 2023

“If it means reassessing everything and doing one-time emergency benefits, and then re-assessing next month, they will do what they can, but they can’t guarantee those benefits,” Smith said. “They can’t guarantee they can help.”

He said he hopes that by talking about his family’s situation, the province will review the current policy to ensure other Alberta families don’t have to go through the same struggles.

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“I understand that there is people out there that take advantage of the system and they work every angle that they can but we are just trying to get by. We are just trying to pay our bills and provide for our kids.”

Smith said the family still has a lot of unanswered questions about the process, and what the review of his wife’s AISH case means, but the family is relying on friends, family and a supportive landlord to make it through this month.

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