Nunavut government pitches big changes to welfare policy

The Government of Nunavut’s welfare, or “income assistance,” system is too complicated and throws up too many barriers that reduce incentives to work or train, a GN report released last week has found.

To fix that, the report, released June 23 and entitled Reducing dependence. Supporting communities, proposes 20 “reforms” for the GN to do on a step-by-step basis starting later this year.

“We use the term ‘proposed reforms’ on purpose. These reforms are not final or set in stone; instead, they set out a path forward while allowing us some flexibility in our approach…,” the document says.

Here are the first four reforms, which will:

• simplify the way the GN calculates income assistance benefits to help people understand how the system works. That’s because, right now, there are different benefits for different needs, such as food, rent or clothing and each one is calculated differently;

• link income assistance to the changes in the cost of living. Right now, income assistance payments do not rise with inflation;

• allow income assistance clients to save some of their benefit money. Right now, Nunavut income assistance recipients are not allowed to do that and must spend all of their savings to qualify for income assistance. Nunavut is the only place in Canada that doesn’t let welfare recipients save some money; and,

• increase the allowance for people with disabilities — the current disabilities allowance has not increased since 1999.


Nunatsiaq News article, read more here