A central Alberta AISH recipient says it’s unfair that increases to income supports for seniors will be more than double what disabled Albertans will receive.
She said Old Age Security benefits, funded by the federal government, increased 10 per cent in July and the province just announced a six per cent increase to the Alberta Seniors Benefit starting in 2023.
Meanwhile, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) recipients will only get a six per cent increase from the province.
“I don’t care whether it’s provincial or federal. (Seniors) are getting 16 per cent,” said Maria, who receives AISH.
“I want to see people with disabilities treated with respect. What makes us less than (seniors)? Our provincial government is sitting on a surplus. They can afford to give us more than six per cent.”
Last month, Alberta’s UCP government announced a six per cent increase to AISH, Income Support, the Alberta Seniors Benefit or Alberta Child and Family Benefit, and rates will continue to be adjusted on a yearly based on the Consumer Price Index.
Maria said a six per cent increase gives her $102 more each month, but her rent went up $90 last month. Money doesn’t go as far at the grocery store, and she has to limit her driving because she can only afford to fill up her tank once a month.
“I can’t afford to waste my fuel in case there’s an emergency because I don’t have the money.”
Maria is grateful for the six per cent increase, but she said AISH recipients have been scraping by for years, so a six per cent increase doesn’t help them very much.
“It is like a slap in the face. Just because we are on disability doesn’t mean we’re not human.”
She said anyone could get into an accident on the way home tonight, no longer be able to work, and have no other option but to try and survive on AISH.
“It happens just that fast.”
The province says in addition to rate increases to programs including AISH, other measures have also been put in place in 2022 to help Albertans fight inflation, including a monthly $50 electricity rebate and fuel tax savings. Food banks are also receiving $20 million over two years.
“Today’s affordability crisis is impacting thousands of Albertans, and our government recognizes this,” said Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services Jeremy Nixon in a statement.
”A number of affordability measures are already in place, but we have been proud to announce more being implemented in the near future. This includes initiatives such as direct payments to low-income seniors and those living with disabilities. This is going to put an additional $600 into thousands of pockets beginning in January of 2023.
“These measures could not be possible without our government’s fiscal responsibility, resulting in surplus budgets. These measures are helping to put food on thousands of tables in these critical times, which is why we remain committed in our support.”