Joint Community Engagement and Research Centre and Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition report outlines shortcomings in Saskatchewan’s Assured Income for Disability program

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The Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC), an organization that advocates for the income needs of Saskatchewan residents with disabilities, recently released a report in conjunction with the University of Regina’s Community Engagement and Research Centre. The report identified several significant shortcomings with the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) Program.

The SAID program was created in 2008 by the Government of Saskatchewan as an income support program for people with significant and enduring disabilities to provide the dignity of greater choice of services and participation in their communities. Since its creation there are have been numerous changes to the program including:

• Excess Shelter Benefits – cut on October 1, 2018
• Housing Supplement – cut July 1, 2018
• Special Diet Allowance – cut October, 2017
• Transportation Allowance – cut October, 2017
• Overpayment Recovery Rates – Increased October, 2017
• Home Repairs Allowance – cut October 1, 2017
• Funeral Coverage – cut October, 2017
• $6000/yearly income before claw-backs – changed July 1, 2019
• 65-year-old cut off – September 1, 2017; reinstated November, 2019


DISC conducted this research with assistance from the Community Research and Engagement in order to determine the impact of these changes on SAID recipients. The report, Rest Assured: Changes to the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities (SAID) program and the impact on beneficiaries, contains the results from a survey that included 432 respondents including 188 SAID beneficiaries and 244 organizations that assist SAID beneficiaries. As well, 11 individuals were interviewed to gain a greater understanding of the issues that were identified in the survey.

“In this manner, we acquired meaningful data in both a qualitative and a quantitative way,” said Rebecca Rackow, one of the authors of the study. “The topics that were discussed centred around what works and what doesn’t with regards to the SAID program, and specifically, what impact the most recent cuts had over the past few years.”

The report highlighted several shortcomings within the existing system:

1. There are problems in consistency and training of income specialists. (seen in themes extracted through interviews and survey comments)
2. The program does not allow individuals to receive full participation as community members since the income provided does not necessarily cover all of the costs of disability. (seen in themes extracted through interviews and survey comments)
3. The provincial government does not take enough consideration into providing housing that accommodates the needs of persons with disabilities.
4. There are not enough accessible transportation options to meet the needs of all of Saskatchewan residents with disabilities, especially for between-community travel for appointments.
5. Some recipients had difficulty handling money and that there is not enough help or understanding of the bill payment process or the income annualization process to ensure that all bills are paid and that there are enough remaining funds for quality of life.
6. There are problems with overpayment recovery rates as errors in payments need to be paid back and large overpayment recovery rates can create problems for recipients attaining needed items and services.

“The original intention of SAID was to ensure that persons with disabilities in Saskatchewan could enjoy full citizenship in our province and the program would serve as an income replacement program rather than an income support program. It is clear from these findings that this intention is not being met,” said Alaina Harrison, Chair of Saskatchewan DISC. She added that DISC is looking forward to working with the Government of Saskatchewan on these shortcomings and ensuring that Saskatchewan “is the best place in the country for people to live with a disability.”

The Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition was formed by a large cross section of disability advocates, consumers and organizations across Saskatchewan that are committed to advocating for a respectful, dignified and adequate income support system.

The complete report can be found at www.saskdisc.ca.


14 December 2020