Saskatchewan aims to reduce paperwork for clients on income assistance

REGINA — The Saskatchewan government is rolling out changes to the way people in the province get access to income assistance.

It says that the new Saskatchewan Income Support program starting in July will be simpler and more client-friendly.

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Clients will be able to keep more of their earned income and won't be required to submit as many receipts to get benefits.

The Social Services Ministry says the changes will allow case workers to spend more time working with their clients versus managing paperwork.

"The system in place today is complicated and cumbersome and takes time away from workers that could be spending more time with our clients," Social Services Minister Paul Merriman said Tuesday.

The government also plans to have a new online form so people can apply for income support from anywhere.

Merriman said staff will support clients to make positive decisions, manage their benefits and household expenses, and reach their goals.

"It will allow them to get off the system faster if they adhere to their own guidelines and their goals that they've set out."

The Opposition NDP said it's concerned that there is no increased support for staff so they can provide more in-depth counselling and no new increases to actual benefits.

"We're spending more money on social assistance in the province, not because benefits have increased or kept pace with actual cost, but because more people are accessing the programs," said caucus chair Carla Beck.

"The minister does really need to go down and look at the folks who are working on the front line to get a sense of what their caseload currently looks like."

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