NDP

NDP introduces bill to reinstate access to social assistance for students

October 26, 2016


For immediate release.

HALIFAX – The NDP introduced a bill today that would prevent the government from denying people access to social assistance based on their status as a student.

“Education and training are key pathways out of poverty,” said NDP Critic for Community Services Marian Mancini. “Government policies should encourage people to access college and university, not create a series of bureaucratic hoops for people to jump through.”

Until 2000, people could access social assistance while attending post-secondary education. When the policy changed, 1600 students were accessing social assistance. Prior to 2000, thousands of Nova Scotians, including Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard, were able to access post-secondary education while accessing social assistance benefits.

In 2006, an exception program called CareerSeek was created to allow a limited number of people to access university education while on assistance. Information obtained through a Freedom of Information request this spring, shows that only six individuals receiving Income Assistance have been approved to participate in the Career Seek program since 2014.

“Seeking a college or university degree, or undertaking upgrading, is a necessity in today’s job market,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “We want to make accessing education and training as simple as possible. This legislation will remove any need for complex exception programs and unnecessary barriers to attending college or university while accessing social assistance.”

-30-

For more information, please contact Kaley Kennedy at 902-229-6881 or kaley.kennedy@novascotia.ca.