NS Budget Provisions for Those on Social Assistance

Briefing Note on what the NS Budget (2023-24) actually provides for people on Social Assistance

The NS Provincial Budget (March 23, 2023) impacts the Nova Scotia government benefits available for people in receipt of social assistance.

The Briefing Note seeks to do three things; i) inform readers regarding the exact amount of money which various individual/family situation among the poorest of the poor receive, ii) show the difference between this year’s social assistance rates and last, and iii) compare the rates to Canada’s official poverty line.

In sum, social assistance is based on standard rates set by regulation. These rates were not raised by even a penny this year nor, in fact, last year.

Rate setting is a political decision; the Provincial Cabinet decides on rates and has chosen to give the poor not a cent more despite the past two years of high inflation.

Since rates were last increased in May 2021, overall inflation in Nova Scotia has increased by over 11% and food alone by 19% (to March 2023). The failure to increase rates at all means that the Provincial Cabinet has effectively chosen to significantly increase food insecurity. Of course, all of this is over and above what are already shamefully low rates to begin with.

While political, rate-setting also impacts people’s fundamental human rights. (Almost 50 years ago, Canada—and Nova Scotia—agreed to be bound by the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, under which our governments pledged to protect everyone’s ‘right to an adequate standard of living’.)

In a sense, therefore, this annual Briefing Note is an exercise in human rights monitoring. By deliberately allowing the standard of living for those living in poverty to sink even lower, the Province is violating its human rights obligations.

In my opinion, no other vulnerable group in our society would be intentionally treated this terribly by government—with impunity.

These shameful social assistance rates implicate not just the ‘politicians’ but, more broadly, us as a society. The treatment of those in poverty is on us as Nova Scotians. Consider letting your MLA know what you think about this situation.

It needn’t be this way—it was never this bad historically and it isn’t this bad in other places.

Feel free to share this note—and maybe, include one or two others whose politics you’re not exactly sure about or who, maybe, aren’t ‘political’.

Very best!


[To download this document click here or read below using the arrows in the border to flip pages]


NS Budget Provisions for Those on Social Assistance