The announcement by he provincial government last week that Albertans receiving financial assistance through the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) can earn more money while still remaining eligible for the program, has received the approval of at least one recipient in the Rimbey area.
“It’s great because before there was only so much and with my condition, if I hurt myself, I only get so much, but when I’m better and I do go to work, the increase will come in handy because of bills and the cost of gas and other expenses,” said the recipient who wished to remain anonymous.
“Before it was only a little bit, now I can make a bit more money and basically not struggle as much as I have been,” the recipient added. “Unless you’re college educated, manual labour is really the only way to make a decent income so this makes working at a less-physically demanding job a good alternative.”
On July 1, the upper limit of the employment exemption formula retroactively increased by $500 to $1,500 per month for single AISH clients and to $2,500 per month for couples and clients with children.
According to a statement released by the government last week, “enhancing employment incentives is one way the Alberta government is supporting AISH clients who are working or wish to do so. Depending on their circumstances, AISH clients may also receive assistance to help pay for childcare and work-related supplies such as tools, specialty clothing or transportation to training.”
In addition to a financial benefit of up to $1,088 per month, all AISH clients receive comprehensive health benefits that include coverage for prescription drugs, dental and eye care, emergency ambulance services, and essential diabetic supplies and a waiver of fees for Alberta Aids to Daily Living.
“Many AISH clients want to work to the extent that they are able and this change helps support that drive,” Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said in making the announcement. “AISH clients have told us that, in addition to providing more income, having a job helps them connect with the community, develop new friendships and increase their self-confidence.”
In addition to the monthly living allowance, employment-related personal benefits can assist AISH clients with specific one-time or ongoing employment and training expenses:
Employment and Training Supports - assists with the cost of tools, specialty clothing or other work related supplies and the cost of applications, deposits, registration and testing fees.
Childcare - assists with the cost of childcare.
Moving - assists with the costs related to establishing a new home if an AISH client moves for employment.
Prior to the announcement, recipients of AISH assistance were, in many cases, forced to make sacrifices and while the increase may not amount to a significant change in lifestyle, every little bit counts, according to the Rimbey-area client.
“I was just barely getting by. I don’t have cable television anymore because I couldn’t afford it,” the recipient said. “The rent is obviously a bit outrageous here, gas prices are insane and then throw on top of that the cost of insurance and food, and I’m basically tapped-out, so this is a bonus for me.”