Special needs launch


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Presentation made at Launch of new report Cornerstone Compromised available at www.policyalternatives.ca July 17, 2013

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Special needs launch

  1. 1. Cornerstone Compromised: A critical analysis of changes to Special Needs Assistance in Nova Scotia Launch, July 17, 2013 Report co-authored by Sara Wuite, Christine Saulnier and Stella Lord
  2. 2. Basic Needs include a „personal allowance‟ and a „shelter allowance‟, which are meant to cover rent, water, heat, electricity, and other 'personal' or family expenses such as food, clothing, etc.
  3. 3. Special Needs includes items such as transportation, special dietary needs, medical equipment, basic telephone service, over the counter and prescription medications, and other items and services as outlined in the ESIA Regulations and Policy Manual.
  4. 4. Government Intention “make it easier for income assistance clients to understand what special needs funding they can receive, and ensure funding decisions are consistent and fair province wide” to “fairly meet the needs of income assistance clients”
  5. 5. Methods Secondary Data Analysis • Hansard and other government sources • Media reports Primary Data Analysis • Key informant interviews • Community Forum
  6. 6. Changes to Special Needs Allowances under the Employment Support and Income Assistance program Repealed the “essential” clause Repealed the “alleviate the pain and suffering” clause Changed the “provision of dental care” Redefines a special need to an explicit list Explicitly excludes a list of items and services
  7. 7. Impact on Recipients: What we heard “Well it means that they don‟t go in unless it is a dire situation.” “– this is all about exclusion. There is nothing about inclusion in the changes.” “It‟s more than the regulation changes a year ago. Physicians complain to me every day that their doctors‟ letters are being rejected and [DCS] want more detailed information.”
  8. 8. Key Finding 1 Create New Problems and Exacerbate Pre- existing Problems especially for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses
  9. 9. Impact on Service Providers: What we heard “I am not able to support people to get their basic needs met in the manner that I used to be." “And it‟s more work because I am pushing in other directions to try to get it.” “There are more people that are requiring support, and it puts pressure on charity and they are not able as often to address some very basic health needs.”
  10. 10. Key Finding 2 Downloads onto Community- Based Service Providers
  11. 11. Public Policy Decision-Making: What we heard "And it just sort of all came as a surprise to everyone. We heard that there weren‟t going to be very many changes, like clients weren‟t going to be directly affected by it. Then, boom. People were screwed.” “I often hear families say that unless they ask a question, there are things that are available for them, but unless they ask the right question, they don‟t know if things have decreased, or increased, or what is available.” they operate in silos in government, they don‟t even talk to one another. Good luck with them talking to us.”
  12. 12. Key Finding 3 Inadequate, Undemocratic , Ineffective Government Decision-Making
  13. 13. Intentions vs Outcomes: What we heard “I think the changes have made this worse – we have a standard of what‟s acceptable for people who live with poverty, and we have a standard that‟s deemed acceptable for all of the rest of us.” "Those kinds of comments, they really are about making the vast majority of people who are not educated about what it is like to live on social assistance feel okay about taking things away from „those people‟.” Unless it affects their lives in some manner, it is just, “People living off the system”. People don‟t want to live off the system! They want to be contributing members of society and there‟s that horrible, huge stigma that is forever around”.
  14. 14. Key Finding 4 Perpetuates Myths and Misconceptions about ESIA recipients
  15. 15. Key Finding 5 Government Intentions do not Match Outcomes
  16. 16. Conclusion Special Needs as a Cornerstone of ESIA has been Compromised
  17. 17. Remove barriers to access to special needs Reinstate an ‘open-ended clause’ in the ESIA regulations Remove most of the ‘special needs prohibitions’ in s. 24(2) of the Regulations Restore the decision- making authority for special needs to the ESIA Regulations Streamline the intake process and requirements for adequate documentation Recommendations
  18. 18. Fully index special food-related allowances to inflation Implement meaningful stakeholder engagement procedures Implement a Poverty Reduction Action Plan as integral to developing Healthy Public Policy Incorporate human rights perspective into ESIA legislation Make transformational reform of the Income Assistance Program a Top Priority Recommendations
  19. 19. Thanks Full Report available for free download on the website. •To Sara Wuite •To NECHC •Anonymous Reviewers •To all of the stakeholders who took some of their valuable time to be interviewed. Tel: (902) 477-1252 or toll-free 1-877-920-7770 (within Atlantic Canada) www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/nova-scotia