Sask advocates say dignity tied to disability funding

REGINA – The provincial government is being urged to increase funding for people living with disabilities in Saskatchewan.

On Tuesday, the Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) said the current amount provided through the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program doesn’t keep up with the cost of living.

More than 15,000 people with disabilities in Saskatchewan live off of roughly $1,300 a month, or $43 dollars a day.

Thirty percent of their income supports their disability, and after paying for things like rent, paratransit and food, there’s not much left at the end of the month.

“By the time I buy groceries, pay rent and bills, I might have 15 to 20 dollars a month left over,” said Sharlene Eger, a recipient of the SAID program.

DISC is recommending the government increase funding by $250 per person, a month.

“It would make a great deal of a difference,” added Eger. “Just to go out and buy more items that are high protein to help my health.”

Judy Hannah, with DISC said the increased amount fits the government’s recently unveiled disability strategy.

“{It’s} a level of income that would allow people to pay for the basics of life. Not a lot of luxuries in there, but it allows them to live with some comfort and then dignity comes with that,” she added.

The Minister of Social Services said there’s been an increase to the program every year, but a review of funding won’t happen immediately.

“In the middle of a tight fiscal year, are we going to say ‘yes’ automatically to $250 more? No. But we will continue our commitment to individuals with disabilities,” said Donna Harpauer.

A survey by the Canadian Mental Health Association found around 40 per cent of Saskatchewan residents believe $2,000 a month would be an acceptable amount for disability funding.