Top News

P.E.I. premier grilled on basic income guarantee, gaps in social assistance

Green MLA Hannah Bell waits for question period to begin recently in the provincial legislature. With the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation announcing Wednesday that Charlottetown’s vacancy rate has dropped to 0.2 per cent, Bell said the province’s population action plan and housing action plan are at odds with each other.
Green MLA Hannah Bell, shown in the P.E.I. legislature in this file photo, said things like food security and feminine hygiene are the first essentials to suffer because of gaps and shortfalls of the Department of Social Development and Housing. - SaltWire file photo
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —


Premier Dennis King, Health and Wellness Minister James Aylward and Social Development and Housing Minister Ernie Hudson were grilled by members of the Opposition about the supports and service provided by social assistance.

Green MLA Hannah Bell pointed to necessities like food insecurity and feminine hygiene as the first essentials to suffer because of gaps and shortfalls of the Department of Social Development and Housing. 

"A parent can only have 70 per cent of the money they need for their family for food. They have to choose whether (their children) will eat or they will eat," said Bell, during question period in the legislature on Tuesday.

"Mr. Premier, how can you wait one day longer while individuals (are) on social assistance with no other options than to go hungry or watch their children go hungry."
King told the legislature it was an important question and issue and said he could not give a simple answer.

Premier Dennis King. - SaltWire file photo
Premier Dennis King. - SaltWire file photo

"The other part of the equation is, because we force people on social assistance to have less money, they make poor choices that will impact their health later on," he said.

"We have to transform how we do this. If we are going to be serious about helping those who need help the most, we have to continue to explore things like a basic income."

While the province has been exploring the universal basic income option for Islanders, any type of movement has been stayed by the recent federal election and formation of the new Liberal minority government.

Bell changed her focus to Finance Minister Darlene Compton, who is also responsible for the Status of Women, highlighting the low provisions given for thing like soap and shampoo as well as feminine hygiene products like tampons and menstrual pads.

“Each month, an individual on social assistance gets $24 a month. Question to (Compton), can you provide the house the breakdown for how a person could budget for their hygienic needs for $24 a month,” she said.

Compton said it was obvious that it is impossible to budget for hygiene with that amount of money but said the province wants to ensure that every Islander has the means to live with dignity .

“As the premier mentioned, one way to do that is to do that through a guaranteed income, and we are exploring that with our federal counterparts. And we will continue to do that.”


Recent Stories