Saskatoon protesters take purpose at social help modifications

SASKATOON –

A group opposing changes to Saskatchewan’s social assistance program protested in front of the Sturdy Stone building in Saskatoon on Wednesday morning.

Several people held signs with slogans such as “evictions equals deaths.”

A similar rally was happening outside the Saskatchewan Legislative Building.

The rallies come after the death Tuesday of a resident of Camp Marjorie – a camp of unhoused people living in Regina’s Pepsi Park which started with one tent and has grown as more people who are facing homelessness come to seek shelter.

In 2019, the Ministry of Social Services announced the creation of the Saskatchewan Income Support program, replacing the Saskatchewan Assistance Program and Transitional Employment Allowance.

SAP and TEA previously covered the cost of utilities for clients, but the new program puts the costs of rent, utilities, taxes and all other home-related costs under a shelter benefit, meaning a single adult will have to pay for all the home-related costs with $500-600 a month.

Clients also receive $285 to meet all other basic needs including food, transportation, clothing and personal items.

Critics say the elimination of the direct payment to rental housing and utility providers was driving up arrears and evictions, as clients could decide to spend their money on items other than rent.

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