Happy Easter. For those of the Christian faith, Easter is the most important celebration of the year when we recall the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We celebrate his resurrection as our reassurance that there is light and life after suffering, darkness and death. As spring brings about new life in nature, by God’s grace, we too can change to become more caring, considerate and generous.
Caring for the most vulnerable in our communities is what social workers do every day. It was Social Work Week in Saskatchewan as I prepared this column. It highlighted what social workers do for the people of Saskatchewan and recognized the value of social work as a profession. They work with individuals and families with complex needs and must interact with many different agencies. Their responsibilities range from adoptions to services for seniors, and many situations in between.
Income assistance is a significant role of the Ministry of Social Services. Income assistance is not a one-size-fits-all, blanket approach. The Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) is a program for families and individuals who for various reasons, including disability, illness, low-income or unemployment, cannot meet their basic living costs. The Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) is an income support program for people with significant and enduring disabilities. It offers individuals the dignity of greater choice of services and participation in their community. The Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) provides financial support to people who are participating in pre-employment services, or those who are job-ready and seeking employment. The Seniors Income Plan (SIP) provides senior citizens with the financial assistance required to meet their basic needs. The Personal Care Home Benefit (PCHB) offers financial assistance to seniors to help with the cost of living in a licensed personal care home. Individuals and families who are on these programs also qualify for extended health benefits.
While there is always more to be done, and our province strives to provide the best service possible while being fiscally responsible, the Saskatchewan Party government has made significant investments into social supports. These include:
- Increasing in the Income Assistance budget by more than $250 million since 2007;
- Creating the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability program in 2009 and increasing its benefits four times since its creation;
- Tripling the Seniors Income Plan from $90/month to $270/month; and
- Increasing the shelter allowances in our Income Assistance programs 9 times.
I commend and thank all the social workers of our province, and all involved in the Ministry of Social Services for the essential services they provide.
Congratulations to local curler, Marie Wright, and the Team Canada Paralympics Curling Team. They won bronze in Pyeongchang last week, an incredible accomplishment for the team. Congratulations to the Warriors for not only capturing 1st place in the East Division but also 1st place in the Western Hockey League, earning them the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy. Good luck in the playoffs. Go Warriors Go!
Debbie and I wish everyone a Happy Easter, surrounded by family and friends, and filled with the joy of new life.