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Rate Indexing for People on Income Assistance Declared by Nova Scotia Government

On Wednesday, Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative government made an unexpected announcement, revealing plans to index income assistance payments to keep pace with inflation. Community Services Minister Brendan Maguire, formerly of the Opposition Liberals, championed this change, having recently crossed the floor to join the government’s ranks.

Expressing his emotions on the matter, Maguire conveyed, “It’s an emotional day for me, and I think it’s a great day for people on income assistance.” He elaborated that the adjustment, the first in three years, would be linked to the consumer price index, resulting in a 2.5 percent increase during the 2024-25 fiscal year. This change is slated to take effect on July 1, with payments retroactively applied from April 1.

Maguire estimated that this adjustment would translate to approximately a $35 per month increase for individuals with low incomes. He clarified that the $7 million required for indexing would be sourced from funds already designated for his department in the 2024-25 budget.

While acknowledging the significance of this step, Maguire emphasized, “This is going to help in a small way. I know there’s more to do.”

The government’s announcement took many by surprise, as it was not included in the budget unveiled on Feb. 29. Despite this, the budget, which underwent the legislature’s estimates process on Tuesday, encompasses indexing for income tax brackets and introduces a new $300 monthly disability payment for those on income assistance unable to work.

Premier Tim Houston disclosed that the policy decision was finalized by the government only in the “past couple of days,” although he noted that the concept had been under deliberation for some time. “It was something that was targeted a little further out (in time) but we were able to move it quicker,” Houston remarked.

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