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Slater said many have worried “the hammer is going to fall” ever since the UCP government was elected in April 2019.
He said he’s open to AISH being restructured or simplified to improve the program but any reduction to program funding is not a viable solution with the cost of living continually on the rise.
“There’s a question of, in times like this, is AISH a charity or is it an obligation?” Slater said.
“Being disabled is sometimes like being in jail for a crime you didn’t commit. It’s just a life that no one would choose. I know how tough it is. I know what urban isolation is like. I know what not being able to afford going out with my friends is like.”
NDP MLA Marie Renaud, the Opposition critic for community and social services, said word of potential cuts to AISH didn’t surprise her.
If the government is looking for areas to slash its costs, she said AISH would be an inappropriate place to start.
“It really is horrifying that they are looking at cutting from people that are really, really struggling,” said Renaud, adding that even $20 per month in reduced funding could make it more challenging for some to afford basic needs such as food and transportation.
“There’s thousands of people that are on the edge. They are on the edge of being homeless. These are people that are at risk. I mean, they live on $20,000 a year, so it doesn’t take much to push people over that cliff,” she said.
“To actually try to save money on the backs of some of the most vulnerable people in our province — I don’t even have words for it. It is picking on people that don’t have a voice.”
Young said those with disabilities want enough income “to support businesses, not food banks.”
“We’re not looking for a handout, we’re looking for a hand up,” said Young.
“Why kick a person when they’re already down?”