Social Assistance Summaries
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The Social Assistance Summaries series tracks the number of recipients of social assistance (welfare payments) in each province and territory.For the total incomes available to those relying on social assistance, visit the Welfare in Canada report.
Social assistance is the income program of last resort. It is intended for those who have exhausted all other means of financial support. Every province and territory has its own social assistance program(s) and no two are the same.
In Nova Scotia, social assistance is called Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA), which replaced the Family Benefits Program and Municipal Social Assistance in 2001.
ESIA provides income and employment supports to Nova Scotians in financial need. Within the ESIA program, Income Assistance provides basic needs assistance in the form of an allowance called a Standard Household Rate (SHR). The amount provided is based on household size and living situation, and is for basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, fuel, utilities, and personal items. All recipients receive the maximum SHR for which they are eligible. Income Assistance also provides for special needs, such as pharmacare, child care, special diet, and transportation. Employment Support Services supports clients with information, opportunities, and services to build the skills and experience they need to work and become more self-sufficient.
How many people claim social assistance?
In March 2020, both the number of cases and the number of beneficiaries increased for the first time since 2013. There were just over 26,100 cases (families and single adults) in Nova Scotia’s Employment Support and Income Assistance program in March 2020, and about 39,500 beneficiaries (individual claimants, their partners, and dependent children). These numbers fell rapidly during the mid-2000s, followed by a much more gradual fall between 2013 and 2019.
The data for 1997 to 2001 cannot be validated as they may include municipal assistance in addition to provincial family benefits. During this period, it was common for family benefits clients to access special needs benefits from their local municipal social assistance offices.
- The data reflects the number of cases and beneficiaries on March 31 of each year, except for 2007, when the data reflects the numbers in January.
- Figures for 1997 to 2001 may include municipal assistance caseload and beneficiary figures in addition to provincial family benefits. During this period, it was common for family benefits clients to access special needs benefits from their local municipal social assistance offices. As a result, caseload figures for these years cannot be validated.
- The numbers do not include First Nations living on reserves.
- Click here for more information about how the data is gathered