A Saskatchewan Party government decision to change the date January social assistance cheques are released to after Christmas from before has come under fire from the NDP Opposition.
As of 2011, Social Services changed the date cheques were issued and direct deposits paid to Dec. 29 from Dec. 23.
“Our goal is to make sure people have money for not only Christmas, but for January as well,” Social Services Minister June Draude told reporters. “We want to make sure that there’s consistency and that people are able to budget.”
As the money is intended for food, shelter and other bills, recipients should look to other options for holiday celebrations, Draude said.
“We really count on places like the (community-based organizations) that work really hard with the ministry to ensure the extras for Christmas are available to our recipients,” Draude said.
I am not sure what I think about this decision. The NDP are right that people need the freedom to spend Social Assistance money like they choose but after years of seeing how busy agencies like the Salvation Army, the Saskatoon Food Bank, and The Friendship Inn are in January because the January check was spent on Christmas cheer (in whatever form it came in), I understand what the Saskatchewan Party is getting at. Of course the other thing I wrestle with is are CBO’s are the ones that need to be counted on to provide Christmas cheer because the government of Saskatchewan doesn’t want to mail our checks earlier.
I know this would get no political traction at all but why not give those deemed unemployable a $50 or $100 Christmas bonus check? You could even do as New York City has done and link it to performance markers like their annual review, maintaining housing, or making sure children get inoculations and shots.
It’s a tough season for those living under the poverty line, making it harder on those that have no other options doesn’t seem right at all. In a province showing gains all over the economic spectrum, there is no need for government to have a heart three sizes too small.