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Report Examines Low New Brunswick Social Assistance Benefits

Issue: 25 Section: Canadian News New Brunswick Topics: poverty

January 20, 2005

Report Examines Low New Brunswick Social Assistance Benefits

by Mark Parker

A recent report from the School of Social Work at the University of Moncton shows that people relying on social assistance in New Brunswick have lower incomes and spend much more of their incomes on housing compared to those on social assistance in other Canadian provinces.

The report, authored by Chantal Bourassa and Ysabel Provencher, concludes that in all categories studied – single employable, single with disability, single with one child, and a couple with two children – New Brunswickers on social assistance receive incomes substantially lower than other provinces.

For example, a single employable person in New Brunswick received a mere $3,383 in 2003. In Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia, this figure was anywhere between $6,000 and $7,000. For this category, the "low income cutoff" (the "poverty line") is $13,558. The single employable person therefore reaches only 25 per cent of this figure. Other categories fare slightly better, as a couple with two children hits the high level at 80 per cent of their poverty line.

Perhaps the most shocking figures in the report concern the percentage of social assistance benefits that go towards housing. A single employable person simply cannot afford housing, as the average rent for a bachelor or one-room apartment in any New Brunswick city far exceeds the monthly assistance.

The report also reminds that working full-time at the New Brunswick minimum wage will still not get a person above the poverty line. For those on social assistance, the situation is much more grim. The authors call on the provincial government to raise the minimum wage and social assistance benefits in order to help people rise out of poverty.

» Mascaret Magazine: Wage and Welfare in New Brunswick

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