Robin Hood is known for robbing the rich to give to the poor. The Saskatchewan government is Robin Hood in reverse. It robs the poor to give to the rich.
Earlier this month, the Sask Party government announced cuts to Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities (SAID), “an income support program for people with significant and enduring disabilities.” 2,700 people will see their already-meagre incomes reduced even further.
When the cuts come into effect, a single person on the SAID program living in Regina will receive a maximum of $721 for shelter, along with an allowance of $489 for such things as food, clothing, and laundry, making a total of $1,064. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Regina is $918.
Rather than cutting SAID, the Sask Party government could have raised taxes on the wealthier classes.
ROBIN HOOD, SASKATCHEWAN NEEDS YOU!
SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM: AKA MINISTER OF SOCIAL SERVICES
The claims made by the now former Minister of Social Services, Donna Harpauer, in defence of the SAID cuts are worthy of the main villain of the Robin Hood legend, the Sheriff of Nottingham, a mean-minded schemer and representative of the power elite.
EQUITY & FAIRNESS
These are the key terms used by Harpauer, by which she meant decreasing SAID benefits so they match those of programs with inferior benefits.
- Rather than a race to the bottom, why not increase the benefits of all those on income support programs?
- In the name of equity and fairness, why doesn’t Donna Harpauer try living on $1,064 a month?
This has been another of Harpaurer’s frequent claims: that the cuts will “eliminate duplication.” Is “duplication” the right word when SAID recipients (people with disabilities) have only $1,064 a month to live on? “Meanness” seems more accurate.
AVAILABILITY OF RENTAL HOUSING
Harpauer was at least accurate in her claim that rental units are more available now than they were several years ago. What she didn’t say is that rents in Saskatchewan have doubled since 2006 and are still increasing. The average monthly rent for even a bachelor suite in Regina is $706.
The Sask Party’s solution to the province’s growing homelessness problem is to buy homeless people a one-way bus ticket to Vancouver. What we really need are more affordable (social) rental housing units!
ADVISORY GROUP ON POVERTY REDUCTION
Harpauer must have gotten desperate! Her ultimate defence of the SAID cuts was that they were recommended by the Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction.
Read the Advisory Group’s report and see for yourself that Harpauer’s claim is UTTER NONSENSE!
OFF THE BACKS OF THE POOR: CUTS TO OTHER SOCIAL PROGRAMS
SAID is not the only social and/or income support program being cut by the Sask Party government. For example:
SASKATCHEWAN EMPLOYMENT SUPPLEMENT
This program supplements the income of low income families with children, thus helping the working poor.
SENIORS’ DRUG PLAN
Low-income seniors now have to pay $25 for every prescription over $25, an increase of $5 per prescription. This is the Sask Party government’s second increase to the cost of prescriptions. When the plan was first introduced, the cost was $15 per prescription.
ABORIGINAL COURT WORKER PROGRAM
This program which helps Indigenous people navigate the colonial (in)justice system, has been cut by a third of its funding.
On October 1, the minimum wage in Saskatchewan will be raised from $10.50 to $10.72 per hour. This measly 22 cent increase won’t do much to help low-income earners’ frail standard of living. In the name of equity and fairness, Saskatchewan MLAs should try to live on the minimum wage.
WHAT WOULD ROBIN HOOD DO?
- Raise taxes on the rich.
- Increase income support payments so that everyone in the province has an income above the poverty line.
- Adopt a Living Wage policy. A living wage is the amount two working parents, with two children, each needs to earn in order to meet the family’s basic requirements and ensure it does not slip into poverty. Regina’s living wage is $16.46 an hour.
- Expand quality affordable housing.
- Implement a Saskatchewan Anti-Poverty Act which recognizes in enforceable legislation the right of everyone to an adequate income, adequate housing, and fair wages for a decent living.
- Sign the STOP CUTS TO SAID petition. We have copies with us.
- Ask former Minister of Social Services Donna Harpaurer to try living on $1,064 a month in the name of equity and fairness: firstname.lastname@example.org or 306-787-3661.
- Present Premier Brad Wall with the same challenge. Also let him know you want him to be more like Robin Hood: email@example.com or 306-787-9433.
- Ask the newly appointed Minister of Social Services, Tina Beaudry-Mellor, to cancel the cuts to SAID and to increase support payments so that everyone in the province has an income above the poverty line: admin@ReginaUniversityMLA.ca or 306-787-7550.
- Send the following statement to your MLA: “I challenge all elected members of the Legislature to vote to cut their own salaries in order to sufficiently fund the level of maintenance promised to persons with disabilities.”