Assistance only gives $537 a month to live on.

Posted: February 25, 2015 in Uncategorized
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I do not know why this topic has been so big on my heart and mind this week. Someone who is on Social Assistance In the province of New Brunswick receives $537 a month. With this whopping amount a person is meant to pay for their rent, food, clothing, and any transportation needed. I understand that we do not want people living off of the system that can work or be enrolled in school, but maybe we need to look at the level of help we are giving and reevaluate.

The province divides clients into different categories: people who are on permanent disability, people on temporary disability, people that are able to work, and people that are unable to work (I am not sure the exact names or categories, and I know that they are not limited to what I mentioned above). I remember being a child and the first of some months I would be able to have the day off school, because my single mother and I would do our grocery shopping and she would take me out to eat. It was not until I was much older that I realized we were on Social Assistance at the time. My mother was a very hard worker and often worked dead-end jobs to provide for my brother and myself, but there were times when she needed some extra assistance. We also accessed the food banks at times, and I am amazed now how they ran their organization. My mom would have to work for an hour-ish and then when she was done we would get some groceries to take home.

I have a friend who recently needed help and went to a meeting with a worker. The social worker made her feel very belittled and basically stupid. With tears in her eyes she expressed that it is very difficult asking for help, and the way he was treating her was uncalled for. He then changed his attitude and demeanor.

When someone is working in this line of work from social workers, soup kitchen staff and shelters we need to remember why we got into this work. The person right in front of us is in need and requires our attention.  Sometimes the person may burn bridges and make it difficult to love them, but we need to remember that this person is the reason we decided to take on this type of a job.

This is a small rant that has been building in my heart for a few days. I intend to do another entry on the holes or gaps in our system here in New Brunswick. Some people have terrible stereotypes of people who are on assistance, but the reality is jobs/careers are not always as plentiful as one would expect.

My thought the other day is anyone working at Social Development should have to create a budget on $537 a month. It would be great if two friends could share an apartment, but that is not an option. Really when someone gets a check they only have a room house as a housing option, some rooming houses are safe and clean, but a lot are not. Rent for these buildings are anywhere from $200-$450 some have furniture, some do not. I really think that someone taking on this type of a job be reminded how hard it is to live on such a small amount. $537 minus $275 (which is low) for rent, minus $100 for food, minus a bus pass $67 (monthly pass) leaves them with $97 for the rest of the month. How does someone live like this?

Our system almost forces people to stay below the poverty line. Statistics show that our rent/housing should be 30% or lower of our income. There are many people who work at Social Development who are wonderful and their heartfelt desire is to help the person sitting in their office. However there are some who really need to check their attitude and intentions.

What do you think? Do you think someone seeking a position at Social Development should be made to live on $537 a month? Should they be made to go to soup kitchens and shelters for their main source of nourishment?

  1. if we are expected to live off 537, i think they should have to make up a “dummy” budget to give recipients an idea how to spend their mopney, as it stands rent averages 400$ a month.. food isnt the cheapest either.. especially being ceilac, and your diet cost alot more a month, but your doctors note which states that you are losing alot of weight, and fast.. nets you a big 40$ extra a month… dont get me wrong… i would love to find work and live like the rest of society… but unless you know someone, or are related to someone, chances are that you aint geting a job… anyways god bless and totally stand behind you on this


    • godsonhigh says:

      Hey Kevin the struggle is definitely real. I do not receive a Social Development cheque, but if I did I would have no clue how to try and make that small amount stretch. Thanks for your feed back.


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