Social Assistance Summaries

Saskatchewan

Last updated: July 2022

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.

Program details

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 Saskatchewan, there are two social assistance programs:

  1. Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID), and
  2. Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS).

Please note: Previously, there were two additional social assistance programs, the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) and the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA). Both closed on August 31, 2021.

Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID)

Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) was designed in collaboration with members of the disability community. It provides income assistance for persons with significant and enduring disabilities. It was introduced in 2009 for individuals in residential care settings and expanded in June 2012 to include people who live independently.

Eligibility for the SAID program is determined by financial criteria as well as the presence of an enduring and significant disability. SAID benefits include a living income benefit for basic needs, a disability needs benefit, and Supplementary Health Benefits.

Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS)

Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) was introduced on July 15, 2019, and is designed to help people overcome challenges and move to employment or participation in their communities to the best of their abilities. SIS clients also receive Supplementary Health Benefits.

Eligibility for the SIS program is determined by financial criteria. SIS benefits include a shelter benefit (for rent, mortgage payments, utilities, and other associated shelter costs) and a benefit for basic needs (like food, local transportation, clothing, personal, and household needs). SIS clients can also apply for or be eligible for employment incentives, health and safety benefits, and benefits to support a change in circumstances, and Supplementary Health Benefits.

The rates for northern residents are also higher to reflect the increased costs of living in northern Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP)

SAP was a basic income support program for families and individuals who, for various reasons, could not meet basic living costs. The program had an adult allowance which included food, clothing, travel, personal, and household items. In addition, there was a shelter allowance which varied depending on the community, accommodations (shared or not), employability, and family size. A variety of other financial benefits as well as Supplementary Health Benefits were provided.

On July 15, 2019, the Government of Saskatchewan suspended intake of new SAP applications. The program closed on August 31, 2021.

Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA)

TEA was introduced in 2003 as an income support program to assist applicants participating in pre-employment programs and services or those who were “job ready” and seeking employment. TEA clients were provided a flat rate allowance to provide for basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and utilities. Clients were expected to budget the benefits to meet their monthly needs. TEA clients also received Supplementary Health Benefits.

On July 15, 2019, the Government of Saskatchewan suspended intake of new TEA applications. The program closed on August 31, 2021.

Statistics

How many people claim social assistance?

On average, there were just over 35,780 cases (families and single adults) in Saskatchewan’s social assistance programs during 2020-21. Over 46 per cent (16,581) received support through the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID), under 24 per cent (8,480) received support through the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP), under 8 per cent (2,685) received support through the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA), and the remaining 22 per cent (8,036) received support through the Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS). The total number of social assistance cases in Saskatchewan fell in 2020-21, although it had previously been rising since 2011-12.

Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID)

During 2020-21, on average, there were around 16,600 cases in the SAID program and about 20,000 beneficiaries. These numbers rose sharply in the two years after eligibility was expanded in 2012 and have risen at a slower pace since then.

Figure 1SK – Yearly cases and beneficiaries of Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID), 2009 to 2021


Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS)

SIS was launched on July 15, 2019, and has gradually replaced SAP and TEA as they ceased by the summer of 2021. In 2020-21, there were just over 8,000 cases in the SIS program and almost 13,700 beneficiaries, more than double the 2019-20 numbers.


Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP)

During 2020-21, on average, there were about 8,500 cases in the SAP, and almost 17,000 beneficiaries (individual claimants, their partners, and dependent children). The number of cases and beneficiaries will continue to dip as the program wound down by the summer of 2021 and was replaced by SIS. These numbers have fallen almost every year over the last two decades.

Figure 2SK – Yearly cases and beneficiaries of Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) and the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP), 1996 to 2021


Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA)

On average, there were around 2,700 cases in the TEA program in 2020-21, and just under 5,300 beneficiaries. The program saw its first dip in four years because it stopped accepting applications on July 15, 2020. TEA wound down in the summer of 2021 and was replaced by SIS.


What proportion of the population receives social assistance?

In 2020-21, on average, 5.6 per cent of people in Saskatchewan under 65 received Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID), Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS), Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP), or Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA), which is 1 in 18. The proportion of recipients receiving social assistance has followed a similar pattern as the total number of recipients.

The proportion of people under 65 receiving SAID has increased consistently since 2009-10, with a high of 2 per cent in 2020-21. Since it was introduced in 2019-20, the proportion of SIS beneficiaries has increased rapidly reaching 1.4 per cent in 2020-21.

On the other hand, the proportion of SAP beneficiaries has been gradually decreasing, from a high of 9.2 per cent in 1996-97 to a low of 1.7 per cent in 2020-21.

The proportion of TEA beneficiaries gradually increased from 0.4 per cent in 2014-15 to a peak of 1.3 per cent in 2018-19, but it has decreased since to 0.5 per cent in 2020-21.

Note: The total population under 65 is estimated on July 1 of a given year, whereas social assistance beneficiary data is a fiscal year average (April to March).

Figure 4SK – Yearly beneficiaries of social assistance as a proportion of the under-65 population of Saskatchewan, 1996 to 2021

Who is receiving social assistance?

In 2020-21, unattached singles were the majority household of social assistance cases for all four programs: 87.5 per cent for Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID), 68 per cent for Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS), more than 58 per cent for the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP), and 53 per cent for the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA). Single parents had the second largest percentages of cases in each program: 6.5 per cent for SAID, more than 25 per cent for SIS, 32 per cent for SAP, and 42 per cent for TEA.

Unattached singles were only the majority beneficiaries for SAID with over 72 per cent. For SIS, single parents had the highest proportion of beneficiaries, with 46 per cent, followed by unattached singles, with 40 per cent. For SAP and TEA, the majority of beneficiaries were from single parent households, with around 52 and just under 64 per cent, respectively. For both programs, unattached singles were second, with 29 and 27 per cent of beneficiaries, respectively.

In 2020-21, males made up the majority of the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability beneficiaries, with 53 per cent. Females made up the majority of the Saskatchewan Assistance Program, with over 54 per cent, and the Transitional Employment Allowance beneficiaries, with over 53 per cent. Females also made up the majority of Saskatchewan Income Support cases, with 51 per cent.


Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID)

Figure 5SK – Cases and beneficiaries of the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) by household, 2020-21

Figure 6SK – Beneficiaries of the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) by gender, 2020-21


Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS)

Figure 7SK – Cases and beneficiaries of the Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) by household, 2020-21

Figure 8SK - Beneficiaries of the Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) by gender, 2020-21


Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP)

Figure 9SK – Cases and beneficiaries of the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) by household, 2020-21

Figure 10SK – Beneficiaries of the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) by gender, 2020-21


Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA)

Figure 11SK – Cases and beneficiaries of the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) by household in Saskatchewan, 2020-21

Figure 12SK – Beneficiaries of the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) by gender in Saskatchewan, 2020-21

Data


Figure 14SK – Social assistance data by household for Saskatchewan, 2020-21

Figure 15SK – Social assistance data by gender for Saskatchewan, 2020-21

Data notes

  • SAP - Saskatchewan Assistance Program
  • TEA - Transitional Employment Allowance
  • SAID - Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability
  • SIS - Saskatchewan Income Support
  • Transitional Employment Allowance was introduced in 2003.
  • Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability was introduced in 2009 and expanded in June 2012.
  • Saskatchewan Income Support was launched on July 15, 2019. The intake of new SAP and TEA applications was suspended on July 15, 2019.
  • The data reflects the average number of cases and beneficiaries over the fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
  • SIS data disaggregated by gender is only available for cases, not beneficiaries. This is in part because this data is not collected for children under the SIS program.
  • SIS applicants can choose to select an option other than “male” or “female,” or choose not to specify. In 2020-21, 38 cases of SIS chose this option. The numbers do not include First Nations living on reserves.
  • Click here for more information about how the data is gathered

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