Archive for the ‘News’ Category

DISC Applauds Changes to Income Exemptions

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Release March 26, 2019

DISC Applauds Changes to Income Exemptions

REGINA – The Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) applauds the provincial government’s plan to increase in income exemption levels for those who receive benefits through the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability program (SAID). The changes were announced on Wednesday, March 20, as part of the 2019-20 provincial budget.

“We are pleased that individuals who receive SAID will be able to keep more of their hard-earned cash in their pockets. Increased income exemptions has long been a top priority of DISC. We applaud the Ministry of Social Services for listening to stakeholders and responding with this change. ” said DISC Chair Alaina Harrison. “These changes will have a real and positive impact for those who are able to supplement their SAID benefits with employment”.

SAID income exemptions will be increased, simplified and spread over a year, rather than month by month, with changes that come into effect in summer 2019. The new income exemption amounts will be $6,000 for a single person, $7,200 for a childless couple, and $8,500 for families.

The change from a monthly to an annualized exemption means that earners can work seasonal jobs and spread the earnings across the year. DISC also appreciates that the Ministry of Social Services has simplified the income exemption calculation by moving from a mixed formula to a flat rate exemption, providing greater clarity for both earners and employers on how many hours can be worked before having to worry about accidentally incurring an overpayment from Social Services.

DISC members participated in consultations on income exemptions with the Ministry of Social Services in the late fall. During consultations, members advocated for a higher exemption as well as an annualized calculation.

Dave Nelson, a long-time DISC member and Associate Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Saskatchewan Division said: “we are very happy with the changes made to the earnings exemption limit made by the government in their recent budget announcement. These changes will help persons on SAID to be able to earn more and spread out limits over time. “

DISC is a coalition of nearly 50 member organizations from across Saskatchewan, formed by a large cross section of disability advocates and people with lived experience. We speak with one voice in advocating for a respectful, dignified and adequate income support system with increased funding for people living with disabilities. DISC was part of the Government and Community Task Team that launched SAID in 2009.
DISC looks forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Government of Saskatchewan on the further improvement of the SAID program.

For further information, please contact Alaina Harrison at 306-531-5107 or [email protected]

Disabled Saskatoon couple worried they ‘could end up on the street’ due to benefit changes

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

Republished from:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/saskatoon-disabled-couple-said-program-changes-1.4943506

‘There’s going to be a lot of people who might run into this’

Cameron Duff says he’s worried about a change that means anyone collecting Old Age Security payments will be cut from the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities program. (CBC)

Cameron Duff says he and his wife Anita turning 65 will not make their disabilities vanish, but will mean they won’t be allowed to continue on the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities (SAID) program.

Duff fears that will leave the couple homeless.

We’re not scum of the earth.– Cam Duff

SAID benefits currently allow them to live in a subsidized apartment, without the need for a damage deposit or first month’s rent.

After running the numbers past federal and provincial officials, Duff estimated he and his wife will still fall short by roughly $1,000 a month.

There’s also no guarantee they’ll continue receiving a supplemental benefit that covers the cost of medical supplies for his wife’s diabetes and her colostomy bags.

“We’ve been trying to figure out what exactly will we get when I’m 65 though Social Services,” Duff said. “It’s clear as mud.”

He suffers from irritable bowel syndrome stemming from cancer treatments more than a decade ago. His wife has a heart condition and diabetes, among other health conditions.

Duff used to work at a care home, but said over the years he has lost numerous jobs due to severe mental illness.

“When you’re below minimum wage you don’t exist,” Duff said. “We’re not scum of the earth or anything like that. But it feels like that.”

The Ministry of Social Services said anyone who starts receiving Old Age Security payments is ineligible for SAID. That change took effect September 1, 2017.

“We wanted to make sure we did have programming that was aligned with other prairie jurisdictions as well as the CPP-disability program,” said Doris Morrow, executive director of program service and design under the Ministry of Social Services’ income assistance division.

Morrow said Duff should speak with caseworkers and apply for welfare once he turns 65.

“We want to make sure we’re helping them and we provide good accurate information to help answer questions,” she said.

Duff said he has already spoken to the manager of the SAID program in Saskatoon and has written numerous letters to government ministers asking for clarity.

“He just wants a straight answer,” said Chelsea Wisser, executive director of the North Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre. (Submitted by Chelsea Wisser)

He’s not alone, according Chelsea Wisser, executive director at the the North Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre (NSILC).

“There’s going to be a lot of people who might run into this situation,” Wisser said.

She said as the population ages, the Ministry of Social Services needs to provide people like the Duffs with real answers.

“It’s a life or death situation,” Wisser said.

“If they don’t get these supplies or get their rent covered, they have many health disabilities and conditions and they could end up on the street,” she said.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated the change making people on SAID ineligible for Old Age Security payments happened on Sept. 1, 2018. In fact, it happened on Sept. 1, 2017.
    Dec 13, 2018 9:35 AM CT

 

 

What is DISC – Sept 2018 update

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

What is DISC?
The Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) is made up of a large cross section of disability advocates, consumers and organizations from across Saskatchewan who are committed to advocating for a respectful, dignified and adequate income support system. As partners in a non-partisan coalition, DISC members have joined together to speak as one voice, working towards a distinct (or separate) income system for people with disabilities that is built on our common vision and principles.

Our Vision and Principles
Our primary vision is to see an income system that offers both an adequate baseline income for people with disabilities and a user-friendly mechanism to address individual financial needs based on the impact of disability.

We believe that developing a distinct income program for people with disabilities must be a truly joint venture between all stakeholders, each contributing equally to the process. Since 2008 DISC has been working with the Government of Saskatchewan in the development of a new income policy for people with disabilities.

As members of DISC we have laid out key principles for an improved system:

Adequacy– People with disabilities should have an adequate income that truly meets their individual needs, not just basic needs.
Hope and Security– People with disabilities must have financial accommodations so that they can live their lives with hope, respect and dignity.
Person-Centered and User Friendly – A disability income program should be easily accessible with consistent, respectful income workers.
Higher Income Exemptions – Higher income exemptions and rapid reinstatement need to be in place to eliminate disincentives to employment and independence.
Consistent Implementation– People with disabilities should be able to expect a portable and flexible income system.

What Progress Has Been Achieved?
October 2008 – the Government of Saskatchewan announced that they would create a separate, dignified program for people with disabilities: ‘SAID’ (Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability)
December 2008 – DISC joined the joint Government – Community Task Team to develop plans for the new income program.
May 2009 – the Government accepted all 50 recommendations of the Task Team and announced that the new income program would be launched on December 1, 2009.
December 2009 – a limited number of individuals, living in residential care, were enrolled at the launch of the new program.
December 2010 – the earnings exemption for SAID (and people with disabilities on SAP) was increased. A $100,000 life insurance/inheritance exemption for SAID was implemented.
March 2011 – the budget included funding to develop the assessment tool for SAID, to begin assessing individuals for the next phase of SAID enrollment, as well as a $50/month increase to SAID clients in residential care settings beginning in January 2012.
May 2011 – the first SAID office is opened in Saskatoon.
October 2011 – Premier Wall announced that SAID would be expanded to include individuals who live independently in community and that benefits would increase in 2012 – 13 by:
*An additional $40/month for individuals in residential care (this is in addition to the $50/month increase that will begin in January 2012)
*$200/month for single people living independently in community
*$230/month for couples living independently in community
June 2012 – the application process for SAID was opened to anyone with a significant and enduring disability in Saskatchewan.
*The benefit rate increase of a minimum of $200/month began for people living independently in community. Individuals living in residential care received a benefit rate increase of $40/month in addition to the $50/month increase that began in January 2012
September 2012 – over 7500 people are enrolled in SAID
June 2013, June 2014 and June 2015 – the Government honored promises made in the 2011 election campaign by increasing SAID benefits for people living independently by $50/month in each of the 3 years for a total of $150. Benefits for people living in residential care increased by $20/month in each of the 3 years for a total of $60.
February 2018 – over 15,192 households currently receive SAID benefits.

DISC continues to have a role on the Program Implementation Advisory Team (PIAT) and will continue to work towards an adequate income and fair assessment process.

To show your support for DISC sign up as a friend on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/saskdisc and be sure to follow us on twitter for all the latest updates. Just search @DISCsk
For more information go to http://www.saskdisc.ca/

or contact:
Alaina Harrison,
(306) 531-5107
20-425 Winnipeg St.
Regina SK S4R 8P2
[email protected]

OR

Chair Dave Nelson
(306) 525-5601
[email protected]

 

Download this one pager here: What_is_DISC Sept 2018

DISC MEDIA RELEASE

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

DISC MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Release September 29, 2016

DISC calls on provincial government to cancel changes to programs that will impact people with disabilities

REGINA – The Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) today called upon the provincial government to cancel its proposed changes to reduce benefits for people with disabilities.

Last month the Ministry of Social Services announced that it would remove the exemption of the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement when calculating benefits for those who receive shelter benefits under the Saskatchewan Assistance Plan (SAP) and the Saskatchewan Assured Income Disability (SAID) program. Due to public outrage, the government has since announced that those changes are currently on hold while the Ministry conducts a review.

“We are concerned that people with disabilities who receive these benefits are currently living under a cloud of uncertainty since the decision is on hold. This is creating undue stress and anxiety among those who already face daily challenges. People are still living under the threat of having their benefits removed and the possibility of being unable to afford the basic necessities of life. It’s time for the government to cancel these changes altogether and allow these people to live in dignity,” said DISC Chair Judy Hannah.

The proposed changes will impact an estimated 2,700 people in the province. Since each case will have to be reviewed to determine if his/her benefits will end, this will create a significant increased workload on Social Services staff, who are already struggling with caseloads. DISC members have been experiencing an influx in calls of concern from their clients who are worried about being unable to make ends meet.

“Simply putting the decision on hold does not reduce the level of angst and worry in the community. The decision must be cancelled and then we can discuss ways to make Saskatchewan the best province in the country for people with disabilities to live, despite the current economic downturn,” said Hannah.

SAID is an income support program for people with significant and enduring disabilities that are of a permanent nature, substantially impacts daily living activities, and require assistance in the form of an assistive device, assistance of another person, a service animal, or other accommodation. 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.

DISC was formed in 2007 by a large cross section of disability advocates, consumers and organizations across Saskatchewan that are committed to advocating for a respectful, dignified and adequate income support system.
-30-

For further information, please contact Pat Rediger at (306) 522-9326 or [email protected]

DISC MEDIA ADVISORY

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

DISC MEDIA ADVISORY
For Immediate Release September 27, 2016
DISC calls on provincial government to cancel changes to programs that will impact people with disabilities

The Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) invites you to a media conference to discuss the provincial government’s proposed changes to income support programs for people with disabilities.

11:30 a.m.
Thursday, September 29
McEwen Manor/Phoenix Residential Society
2035 Osler St.
Regina, SK

The media conference will include presentations by DISC Chair Judy Hannah as well as individuals who will be impacted by the government’s proposed changes to the Saskatchewan Assured Income Disability (SAID) program and the Saskatchewan Assistance Plan (SAP).

For further information, please contact Pat Rediger with Benchmark Public Relations at (306) 522-9326 or [email protected]

DISC letter to Minister Harpauer

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Below is a letter sent from DISC to minister Harpouer this morning:

2016-letter-re-SAID-concerns-to-Minister

DISC letter to Minister Harpauer

Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC)
3031 Louise Street
Saskatoon, SK
S7J 3L1
August 11, 2016
Honourable Donna Harpauer
Minister of Social Services
Room 303, Legislative Building
2405 Legislative Drive
Regina, SK S4S 0B3
Dear Minister Harpauer:
I am writing on behalf of DISC (Disability Income Support Coalition) to express our deep concern regarding changes that have been announced for some recipients of the SAID (Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability) Program. We have previously shared these concerns with Ministry officials.

 
First, we recognize that the Government of Saskatchewan is dealing with a challenging financial situation at this time. We also recognize that the SAID Program should be run as efficiently and effectively as possible. We recognize that perceived equity in the program is important. At the same time we feel it is important to reinforce the idea that treating all individuals with very complex needs and multiple barriers the same is, by definition, not treating persons fairly. While we understand the need for equity in the program we feel that the process that has been implemented is unacceptable.
SAID was clearly and unequivocally designed as a long-term, secure income replacement program as outlined in the Principles in Recommendation 1 of the Final Recommendations document (May 13, 2009). As such, removing any benefit from persons already in the program should be done only in the rarest of circumstances and subject to an individual assessment of the impact that reduction of benefits will have on each individual involved. With this in mind, the reduction in the housing subsidy in our opinion should only be reduced down to, but not below, the level of the actual rent of the individual involved. If this is not feasible, then a notice period of one year whether there is a lease signed or not, should be given to allow the individual involved time to adjust their life style and residence. This should be done if, and only if, a thorough assessment by the worker, client and an advocate if available, determines that the impact of the change will not be detrimental to the person involved.

We are particularly concerned that the current letters being sent out advise that the reduction in income will come into effect for October 1, 2016. This means that SAID beneficiaries will need to give notice on August 31st if they need to move out on September 30th because they can no longer afford their rent. This does not provide an adequate notice period. We are concerned that these changes might leave people who are already vulnerable without adequate housing as winter approaches. We are talking about individuals losing their homes.
We note that people are being encouraged to talk to their Assured Income Specialist (SAID worker). The logistics of 2,700 people being able to have a meaningful conversation with their worker before they would have to give notice will be challenging and, again, reinforces our concerns that the proposed notice period is too short.
In summary, DISC is asking that the Ministry slow down the process of implementing this change in order to allow time for a thorough assessment of the necessity for and the impact of any change on each individual situation. A slowdown of the process would also
allow individuals to truly understand and adjust to the implications of the changes to their personal situation. Furthermore, we are asking that if a reduction in any housing subsidy is needed that it be at most lowered to the level of the actual rent, but not below the actual rent.

 
It is critically important to the success of SAID that persons involved in the program have a sense of security and stability to allow the sense of citizenship the program was designed to encourage and support as outlined in both the Principles and Recommendation 3 of the Final Recommendations (May 13, 2009). We feel it is important that SAID truly be an assured source of income for those who rely on it for security in their lives.
In the final analysis, it is easy to provide support for a program such as SAID in good economic times. The real test of the program, and with respect to the government standing behind the program, is to provide that sense of support and care to thousands of persons with severe and enduring disabilities even when, as inevitably happens, times get rough economically for our province. Thank you for your attention to our concerns regarding this critically important matter.
Considering the imminent impact of the changes currently under way, DISC requests that our concerns be addressed no later than August 25th and that we receive a response by that date.
Sincerely,
Judy Hannah
Chair, DISC
cc. Premier Brad Wall
Greg Miller, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Social Services
Constance Hourie, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Social Services
Elissa Aitken, Executive Director, Ministry of Social Services

Media Release – Jan 19, 2016

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release                                                                                                            January 19, 2016

 Additional $250 a Month for Disability Funding Program an Election Priority for DISC

REGINA – In the upcoming provincial election, the Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) is asking all candidates, no matter their political affiliation, to advocate for an increase to the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) funding program by $250 per month per person in order to reach a meaningful, socially acceptable level of income for people with disabilities.

“An extra $250 would mean all the difference to SAID recipients,” said DISC Chair Judy Hannah. “We are hoping this is an issue that all political candidates will take very seriously and adopt into their platforms leading up to and beyond election night.”

SAID is an income support program for people with significant and enduring disabilities. While previous increases to the SAID program have allowed recipients to enjoy a greater quality of life than in the past, the rapidly increasing cost of living in the province has affected SAID recipients in many ways.

Hannah noted that many of these people on the program have special dietary requirements and must eat a healthy diet, but purchasing the ingredients to make wholesome meals is often beyond their price range. SAID recipients are frequently forced to inconvenience their friends and family to get rides due to high transportation costs. Many recipients can’t even keep a roof over their heads due to the absence of housing that is both accessible and affordable. The struggle to afford even these necessities means SAID recipients are forced to live month to month and are unable to save any money, which can be devastating if an unexpected emergency arises.

“An extra $250 would allow SAID recipients to afford the basic necessities of life, save for a rainy day and be able to have the money to go out for coffee with friends, visit family or even buy a Christmas present – things we all take for granted, but are not available to many people on SAID,” said Hannah.

DISC has unveiled a new video that explores the lives of people with disabilities relying on SAID funding. To view the video, visit www.saskdisc.ca.

DISC will be hosting two all-candidate forums in March, in Regina and Saskatoon, where it invites the public, media and all parties running for office to attend for a meaningful discussion about providing an adequate level of funding for people with significant and enduring disabilities. The first forum is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. on March 3 at the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon (715 Broadway Ave). This will be followed by the Regina forum on March 10 from 7-9 p.m. at the Glencairn Neighbourhood Recreation Centre (2626 Dewdney Ave E).

The Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition was formed by a large cross section of disability advocates, consumers and organizations across Saskatchewan that are committed to advocating for a respectful, dignified and adequate income support system.

-30-

For further information, please contact Pat Rediger at (306) 522-9326 or [email protected].

Media Advisory – Jan. 15, 2016

Friday, January 15th, 2016

MEDIA ADVISORY

For Immediate Release                                                                             Jan. 15, 2016

DISC to highlight priorities for upcoming provincial election at a special video screening

You are invited to a media conference on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 10 a.m., at the University of Regina (3737 Wascana Pkwy) in the Shu-Box Theatre, where the Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) will be highlighting its priorities for the upcoming provincial election.

 The event will be hosted by DISC representatives Judy Hannah and Anita Hopfauf, who will introduce a new video that explore the lives of people with disabilities relying on Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID funding). Following the screening of the video and closing remarks, DISC representatives and the subjects of the video will be available for interviews.

At the event, DISC will also be providing information about its upcoming all-candidate forums in Regina and Saskatoon, focusing on the issue of funding for people on the SAID program.

Please note that the Shu-Box Theatre is located near the entrance to the U of R’s Riddell Centre, down the stairs from the U of R Students’ Union.

-30-

For further information, please contact Pat Rediger with Benchmark Public Relations at (306) 522-9326 or [email protected]

 

Printable poster invitation available here

DISC Seeking Additional $250 a Month for Disability Funding Program

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

DISC
Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release                                                                                                              June 23, 2015

DISC Seeking Additional $250 a Month for Disability Funding Program

REGINA – With the cost of living continuing to escalate in Saskatchewan, people with disabilities are having difficulties making ends meet. That is why the Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) is asking the provincial government to increase the funding to the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program by $250 a month per person.

“In 2011, Premier Brad Wall stated it was the Saskatchewan Party government’s ‘vision and goal to make our province the very best place in Canada to live for those with disabilities.’ While major steps have been taken toward this goal, increasing SAID funding by $250 per month will help us reach the next level in quality of life,” said DISC Chair Judy Hannah.

DISC brings together 38 disability advocacy organizations and individuals to speak with one voice in support of a more respectful income program, with increased funding for people living with disabilities. DISC was part of the Government and Community Task Team that launched SAID in 2009.

Currently, a single person with a disability receives, on average, $1300 per month from social assistance. This leaves the single person with a disability on welfare supporting him or herself on roughly $43 a day. Whether it means finding a wheelchair accessible apartment, paying for paratransit, or spending extra money on medication or healthy food to adhere to a doctor-ordered diet, it does not take long for this money to disappear.

“We already know that low oil prices are beginning to have an impact on the province’s economy. That impact is even more significant among Saskatchewan’s must vulnerable populations,” Hannah said. “Increasing funding by $250 will provide disabled people with the financial ability to cover the costs of the basic necessities to live.”

A recent survey conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association indicated there is substantial public support for increased funding to people with severe and long-term disabilities. Approximately 39% of 2,237 people surveyed throughout the province indicated that $2,000 per month was a socially acceptable amount of funding for these individuals.

“The results of this survey indicate that more adequate funding is required for people with severe and long-term disabilities to have a life with dignity,” said Dave Nelson, CEO of the Saskatchewan Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

DISC was formed by a large cross section of disability advocates, consumers and organizations across Saskatchewan who are committed to advocating for a respectful, dignified and adequate income support system. DISC members have joined together to speak as one voice, working towards a distinct (or separate) income system for people with disabilities that will be built on our common vision and principles.

-30-

For further information, please contact Pat Rediger at (306) 522-9326 or [email protected].

Impact of SAID Survey

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
The Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) is doing a study of people who are on Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID). Anyone who is on SAID is asked to participate in this voluntary and anonymous survey. No personal information is recorded. DISC will discuss the results of the study at an upcoming DISC meeting which you are welcome to attend. The study findings will be presented to the Ministry of Social Services. 

Please forward this message to individuals that you know who are on SAID and to organizations that work with people on SAID. Here is the web link to the survey. 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N7FWQ5T

People on SAID can complete the survey on-line anytime between April 2 and May 2, 2015. Anyone wishing to complete the survey on the telephone can call the researchers at either of the numbers below. As well, please do not hesitate to contact the researchers if you have any questions or comments about the survey.

Kathleen Thompson, PhD
Lead Researcher
[email protected]
Phone: 306-757-0669

or

Amber-Joy Boyd
Research Assistant
[email protected]
Phone/Text: 306-570-1442

Thank you for your consideration in recruiting participants for this important and timely survey of people on SAID.
SaskDISC.ca - Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition
This website and all of it's content are protected by copyright © 2007-2019 SaskDISC.ca: All Rights Reserved by AJB