ESIA PROGRAMS NEED SUBSTANTIAL INCREASES

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

ESIA PRGMS.: SUBSTANTIAL INCREASES - DELIVER

SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Madam Speaker, many of the people I serve in my constituency office are recipients of income-support programs provided by the Department of Community Services. Each one of them has a different story of how they found themselves using these programs, and each has had different experiences with the system.

What all of these community members have in common, however, is that they do not have enough money at the end of the month to make ends meet. My community's most vulnerable people have been told to wait for transformation of the ESIA program, wait for the standard household rate, and wait for the round of rent supplements that are promised in this budget.

Madam Speaker, if and when all of these things happen for a person - and we know now, for instance, that the wait is still nine months away for a paltry 2 to 5 per cent increase in assistance - the person would still be very poor. Even if all the changes happen, the person will likely still have to use a food bank, will still have very limited housing options, and will likely live in a place with mould problems, drafty windows, or pests.

I call on the government to take stock of the reality of the lowest-income people in this province, to acknowledge that its current policies and values are keeping people poor, and to make substantial increases to the ESIA program so that the most vulnerable people have what they need to live . . . .

THE SPEAKER « » : Order, please. Time is well elapsed.