Immediate Health & Safety funding of phone services for all NS-DCS Income Assist. Clients

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Currently (May 2, 2020) clients of the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services do not receive funding for basic telephone service unless they prove a medical health and safety need (ESIA Policy 8.2.34 Telephone for Health and Safety Reasons). All clients should immediate be funded for a telephone.

All Nova Scotians are experiencing a public health and safety crisis with COVID-19. The initial screening for people who display symptoms of COVID-19 must happen by telephone, using 811. In response to advice from Nova Scotia Public Health; government, public services and non-profits have begun offering services via telephone and internet. This includes doctor appointments and mental health counselling. Family and friends are staying connected by talking on the phone. Social connection is a key determinant of health. Telephone service is a basic necessity.

The Nova Scotia Provincial Government must immediately begin to fund telephone services for all Income Assistance recipients.

The current Employment Support and Income Assistance policy also states “Connection charges and deposits will not normally be paid by the Department”. These are not normal times. The Department of Community Services must immediately pay market rate for the cost of telephones and connection fees for their clients.

As Nova Scotians we have faced an overwhelming collective tragedy. Suddenly the importance of emergency alerts has become terrifyingly real. Telephones are a lifeline. In emergencies people need to be able to call 911. Telephone service and the cost associated with this must be considered a basic necessity and funded by Income Assistance.  

By signing this, you are respectfully petitioning for the immediate funding of market rate telephone services, cost of telephone instalation, and appropriate telephone equipment for all Department of Community Service Income Assistance clients. Responsible for this change is the Nova Scotia Government including Premier Stephen McNeil, Community Services Minister Kelly Regan and Health Minister Randy Delorey.

This is a health and safety issue for all Nova Scotians. We are stronger together.