Reverse the SAID cuts in Saskatchewan!
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We, Community Living Association of Saskatoon, insist the Government of Saskatchewan reinstate the travel allowance and funeral benefit for people on the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID). Individuals with Disabilities have the right to access to transit that enables them to be active members of our community and to have a part in making the decisions regarding their lives. They also have the right to decisions regarding their funeral and deserve the dignity and respect everyone is entitled to.
With the cut back of $20 of travel allowance, many individuals with disabilities will not be able to afford transportation unless provided by a support worker, family member or group home. These individuals will become more isolated from our community, as this is their mean to travel to visit family & friends and for social activities. This is unacceptable in a time, when advocacy is at an all-time high to have people with disabilities be active contributing members of our society. Instead of moving forward, we are moving backwards and this needs to be stopped.
Many people may believe that $20 is not going to have a huge impact on people’s lives, but the reality is that $20 for many of people on SAID makes a huge difference to their $1,200-$1,300 monthly income. To put this into perspective, many people that work minimum wage, full time jobs in Saskatchewan only will make approximately $1,700 each month. These people are living in poverty and barely making their monthly payments. This illustrates that people on the SAID program are living below the poverty line but our Government continues to claw back funding from our most vulnerable people.
The funeral cuts to the most vulnerable and poor people in Saskatchewan is undignified and ludicrous. The funeral benefit will be going from a flat rate of $3,850 to $2,100. The $3,850 was covering the cost of transferring the deceased from place of death, embalmment, a viewing and a basic memorial service, a basic casket or urn, all the paperwork and regulatory fees and the transportation to the graveside. With the cuts to $2,100, the deceased cannot be embalmed or have a viewing. These cuts are estimated to only save the provincial government $1 million dollars. The basic rights and dignity of people are being taken away and the Saskatchewan Government is pushing for affordable basic services such as cremation. These decisions should be up to the individual or their families to reflect their beliefs and family traditions, not because of financial constraints.
Many of these individuals with disabilities that this will affect have lived in poverty due to the level of support they can receive from the SAID Program and often come from families that are unable to support themselves and their child with a disability. This cut will not affect people whom come from middle-class to upper-class families but will directly affect those who are at the poverty line or below the poverty line. No matter what societal class a person comes from, they are entitled to dignity and respect when they pass away. It is morally wrong to not give the deceased the right to a celebration of remembrance. If anything should change to the funeral benefit, it should be increased, as the current benefits do not even cover the cost to open and close a cemetery plot. Funeral Homes were already subsidizing the cost of a funeral for people receiving the $3,850 because dignity is a right for everyone. With this cut, funeral homes will no longer be able to help subsidize the cost for a basic funeral which takes away the basic rights and dignity of the deceased and their family.
The Saskatchewan Government took the average cost of $2,100 from the British Colombia Funeral Association, whom is currently expecting an increase from the BC government of “several thousands of dollars” very soon. This Association has stated publicly, "For the Government of Saskatchewan to base their new, reduced rates on our current (yet outdated) Ministry rates in unacceptable… to expect funeral providers in Saskatchewan to accept a pay cut to their services is extremely short-sighted and ignorant.”
Our premier has tried to paint the picture that we will not be the province that makes the 16 year old girl at the end of the Tim Horton's line pay for the deficit so why is it ok to make the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable people pay for the deficit? This does not make any logical sense and we need to stop this disaster before it goes any farther.
Saskatchewan needs to support ALL of our people no matter their ability. We are only as strong as our most vulnerable person. Please help us show the Government of Saskatchewan, how unacceptable these decisions are and demand that it be reversed.
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