NDP asking why Bernard, Liberals froze income assistance

July 3, 2014

(Chester, NS) Acting NDP Community Services critic Denise Peterson-Rafuse is asking why the Liberals have frozen the personal allowance for people receiving income assistance. In recent years, people receiving income assistance received an increase on July 1st. Today the NDP contacted the Community Services office in Halifax and were told the rate did not increase in 2014.

Last July the personal allowance rate increased by 7 per cent and between 2010 and 2014 the rate increased by 22 per cent which worked out to an extra $47 per month for those receiving income assistance.

“There is no group more vulnerable to inflation than individuals receiving income assistance,” said Peterson-Rafuse. “An extra five or ten dollars can make all the difference. This freeze places a tremendous amount of pressure on families already struggling to get by.”

Peterson-Rafuse made the comments on a day the Conservative Caucus raised concerns about another questionable appointment by Bernard to the Advisory Council on the Status of Women – this time her official agent from the 2013 election. Last week it was disclosed that Bernard had appointed the constituency assistant of Liberal MLA Patricia Arab, who happened to also be the spouse of Bernard’s executive assistant. Originally Bernard claimed nobody had been passed over for the appointment. That proved to be false as 21 people had applied for seven vacancies.

Peterson-Rafuse says Bernard needs to spend less time finding jobs for her Liberal friends and more time helping vulnerable Nova Scotians, something the Premier promised on a number of occasions. She says once again the Liberals are not as advertised.

“Plain and simple, the Liberal Minister has lost focus on what really matters,” said Peterson-Rafuse. “The Minister needs to be working to provide a few extra dollars so families living in poverty can afford food, rent and their power bills.”

The previous Liberal government of the 1990s also failed to keep Income Assistance rates at pace with inflation resulting in a serious deficiency that proved challenging to overcome by subsequent governments.