For Immediate Release: October 12, 2021
New Saskatchewan Income Support Program driving evictions and homelessness
REGINA - In light of increasing rental arrears, evictions and homelessness among Social Services Saskatchewan Income Support clients, Meara Conway, Critic for Social Services, Housing and Human Rights wrote the Social Services Minister Lori Carr to call on the province to suspend the SIS program, return to direct payments of rent to landlords and work on comprehensive housing strategy to connect those in need with supports and shelter they need before winter.
“This government is unbelievably out of touch with the chaos they caused by cutting supports during an unprecedented pandemic and transitioning over to the Saskatchewan Income Support Program,” said Conway. “The minister says she doesn’t know how many people transitioned to the SIS program or how many people fell through the cracks. She doesn’t know how many clients are assigned to a social worker, doesn’t know that clients are waiting 4-5 hours on the phone to reach their social worker. This is the Minister’s job.”
The Sask. Party government was warned years in advance that this exact situation would occur should they continue forward with the transition over to the Saskatchewan Income Support program. Social service workers, landlords, housing and anti-poverty advocates all warned the government of this potential outcome for months, but in what has become a pattern of behaviour for this government, they ignored the advice and warnings from those who knew best.
“We are approaching winter and we are facing unprecedented evictions and homelessness. People are setting up tents outside. These are people, human beings, and Minister Carr chalks this up to “growing pains” of a new program. We’re one month in and it’s an unmitigated disaster,” said Conway. “Come down to Pepsi Park, Minister Carr, see the results of your cuts to income assistance for our most vulnerable. I hope that after that you’ll have a change of heart.”
Saskatchewan New Democrats are calling for:
- Suspension of the Saskatchewan Income Support program and a return to a direct payment model for housing and utilities.
- Increases to payment amounts to better reflect cost of living in the province of Saskatchewan.
- A working roundtable with anti-poverty advocates, landlords, social workers, and government employees to develop a comprehensive housing strategy.