September 18, 2020
Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)
I have been a volunteer for various nonprofit agencies since I was a teenager. I began as a teacher’s aid at Christine Meikle School where I was involved in helping develop functional daily living skills that students would need to transition to adult life in the community. In addition, I was involved in various volunteer capacities with other nonprofit organizations that worked with persons with both mental and physical disabilities such as: Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (Toronto), Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre (Calgary), Calgary Association of Self Help, Southern Alberta Brain Injury Society (Calgary), and the Canadian Adaptive Snowsports Association (Calgary). I have also worked as an employee and as a Professional Fundraising Consultant at: the Epilepsy Association of Calgary, Disabled Sailing Association of Alberta, Flying Doctors of Canada, McMan, The Doorway, the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) (now Spinal Cord Injury Alberta), and the YWCA of Calgary.
I have been extremely passionate about assisting persons with both mental and physical disabilities in any way possible and therefore find the discussion with our government regarding a reduction in AISH payments to be mind boggling. As recent as September 15, 2020 the Calgary Herald stated that Premier Jason Kenney said his government will examine eligibility criteria for the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program as it searches for cost savings. His remarks Tuesday prompted another wave of concern among those receiving AISH payments and advocates for Albertans living with disability. https://calgaryherald.com/news/politics/kenney-says-ucp-reconsidering-aish-qualification-criteria
So it seems to be flip flopping a bit and causing worry amongst people on AISH, as on September 12, 2020 CBC News posted that Rajan Sawhney, Alberta’s Minister of Community and Social Services, ruled out cuts to Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) payments. In a statement posted on social media Saturday Sawhney said: “To those of you who have had a sleepless night, due to the stress of yesterday’s news, let me provide you with some reassurance,” adding that no changes had been made to the AISH program and that an ongoing review was focused on service delivery. “Let me state definitively that there will be no cuts to AISH financial benefits.” Sawhney was responding to a Friday report from the Calgary Herald that the United Conservative Party government was considering cuts to AISH in 2021. CBC News has not independently confirmed the report.
After some searching on the internet, I was able to determine several interesting statistics that I thought I would share:
AISH provides a maximum monthly living allowance of $1,685 to assist clients living in the community. The living allowance may be reduced if a client and their cohabiting partner receive non-exempt income, or if a client resides in a Government of Alberta group home.
You can work and be eligible for AISH – clients are encouraged to work to the extent they are able. The province has changed requirements for the Assured Income for Severely Handicapped (AISH) program by allowing recipients to earn more money while getting financial assistance. Clients can now earn up to $1,500 a month and still be eligible for monthly financial assistance of up to $1,088; so this meaning, however, that their $1685 regular monthly benefit will be clawed back if you earn up to $1500, so in total you will receive $2588 or $31,056 versus $20,020.
As of Oct 24, 2019, the UCP announced it will deindex the cost of living raise, the AISH rate will be fixed at $1,685 per month instead of rising by 1.57% per year ($108.00 over a four-year term
What is considered a low income in Alberta?
Qualifying Income Levels
|Household Type||Maximum Qualifying Income|
|Single Parent – 2 Children||$31,010|
|Single Parent – 3 Children||$36,325|
|Single Parent – 4 Children*||$41,957|
|Couple – 1 Child||$31,237|
The average liveable salary in Canada is $66,300 per year or $34 per hour. Entry level positions start at $24,375 per year while most experienced workers make up to $112,710 per year.
Calgary’s poverty line sits in the second-highest spot in the province by that measure, at $20,215 per year for a single person and $40,430 after taxes for a couple with two children.
On an annual basis, AISH would bring in $1685 x 12 months= $20,220. This applies to those who are unable to work and earn the extra $903 (the extra financial assistance that AISH would provide). Unfortunately, many people on AISH are unable to work based on their physical and/or mental conditions.
The Calgary data is somewhat confusing, with the average rent up from $1,475 per month in August 2019 to $1,540 per month in August 2020.
Minimum average income needed to afford living in any area of Calgary is $26,327 (row home in the east sector)
It simply boggles my mind why our Alberta government or anyone would want anyone in our most vulnerable populations to be living in poverty — a reality for those who are on AISH if they are unable to work and earn the extra $903. The most recent press about the UCP government reconsidering the criteria to qualify for AISH, will inevitably force some persons with disabilities into unspeakable hardship.
I am here to support agencies who support vulnerable populations. If you would like to learn more about how my ability, experience, and skills may be able to help benefit your nonprofit organization or a nonprofit organization you may be associated with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I would be pleased to pass on my references and their contact information to you and/or meet and discuss the opportunity of working together and provide you with any additional information you may require.
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Mitchell Ravvin, BComm, PFPC, CFRE
Rave Results Inc.
7436 21A Street SE
Calgary, AB T2C 0V9
Rave Results Inc. is a professional fundraising service specializing in assisting mid-size nonprofit organizations. Areas of expertise include: Donor Development, Major Gift Fundraising, Sponsorship, Planned Giving, and both Annual and Capital Campaigns.