Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association expresses concerns about the province’s revamped income support program
Saskatchewan’s new income support program has been criticized by advocates who say it helps fuel evictions and homelessness.
Now, the organization representing cities across the province joins a chorus of voices calling on the province to do more to help those in need.
The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) released a statement Friday saying that members of its mayors caucus are concerned about their residents’ experience with Saskatchewan’s new Income Support (SIS) program.
âThis program is designed to help our most vulnerable, but instead we are seeing an increase in homelessness in our communities,â said Gerald Aalbers, Mayor of Lloydminister and Chairman of the SUMA City Mayors Caucus.
What is the SIS?
The SIS was first announced by the Government of Saskatchewan in 2019, with the promise that it would be a way for assisted people to become more self-sufficient.
The program provides that tenants receive a monthly government check to pay their utility, food and rent bills.
Previously, money for rent and utilities was sent directly to the landlord rather than the tenant.
The previous programs – the Transitional Employment Allowance and the Saskatchewan Assistance Program – have been phased out by the government, with everyone required to be registered with SIS as of August 31.
Since the entry into force of the SIS, the program has been criticized by organizations and individuals from across the political spectrum.
Campaigners said the overhauled system was causing more evictions, while a survey by the landlord’s association found that 31% of people using the new program were unable to pay their rent in September.
Now SUMA says its members are also affected.
Local politicians join the fray
On Friday, Aalbers expressed concern over the growth of homelessness in Saskatchewan.
He cited the establishment of Camp Marjorie in Regina as well as other tent camps as a major concern for the mayors of SUMA.
âWe want to make sure this issue is addressed because we know what the temperature is outside. It’s a beautiful day today, the sun is shining, it’s a positive temperature here at Lloydminsiter. But we know we’re not. not far from Mother Nature. change that, “Aalbers said.
He said it is important for municipalities to express their support for residents who cannot access the services provided by the province.
The mayor’s caucus met with Social Services Minister Lori Carr earlier this week and shared their concerns with her.
Aalbers said Carr and the ministry shared the concerns, but SUMA still felt it was important to speak out and keep the issue at the forefront.
“Having no rent paid, people are going to be evicted. Why hasn’t the rent been paid? It’s the system that has had problems, and we want to make sure these discrepancies are corrected. as soon as possible, “Aalbers said.
Carr has previously urged patience as the ministry resolves SIS’s growth issues.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Carr wrote that all levels of government have a role to play in the fight against homelessness and that the province “takes its role very seriously.”
“The Government of Saskatchewan continues to listen and work with our community partners to find ways to better support clients with more complex needs who are at risk of becoming homeless and who need more supports to be successful.” , Carr said.
âWe will continue to work with community organizations and municipalities to address these issues in their communities.