Social Assistance Summaries

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.

Last updated: May 2020


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 three social assistance programs:

  1. Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP)
  2. Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA)
  3. Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID)

Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP)

SAP is a basic income support program for families and individuals who, for various reasons, cannot meet basic living costs. The program has an adult allowance which includes food, clothing, travel, personal, and household items. In addition, there is a shelter allowance which varies depending on the community, accommodations (shared or not), employability, and family size. A variety of other financial benefits as well as Supplementary Health Program coverage are provided.

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 are “job ready” and seeking employment. TEA recipients are given a fixed allowance to provide for basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and utilities. Recipients are expected to budget the benefits to meet their monthly needs. TEA recipients also receive coverage from the Supplementary Health Program.

Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID)

SAID was designed in collaboration with members of the disability community. It provides an income for persons with significant and enduring disabilities separate from SAP. It was introduced in 2009 for individuals in residential care settings and expanded in June 2012 to include people who live independently. Over the course of 2011-12 and 2012-13, approximately 6,500 former SAP clients with disabilities were enrolled in SAID.

Eligibility for the SAID program is determined by financial criteria as well as a disability impact assessment. SAID provides a living income benefit for basic needs, a disability needs benefit, and Supplementary Health Program coverage.

How many people claim social assistance?

On average, there were 36,600 cases (families and single adults) in Saskatchewan’s social assistance programs during 2018/19. Around 42 per cent (15,600) received support through the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID), 49 per cent (14,300) received support through the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP), and the remaining 18 per cent (6,700) received support through the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA). The total number of social assistance cases in Saskatchewan has been rising since 2011/12.

Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP)

During 2018/19, on average, there were 14,300 cases in the SAP, and 27,600 beneficiaries (individual claimants, their partners, and dependent children). These numbers have fallen almost every year over the last two decades. 

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Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA)

On average, there were 6,700 cases in the TEA program in 2018/19, and 12,700 beneficiaries. In the last four years, these numbers have risen sharply and by 2018/19 exceeded the previous peak in 2006/07. 

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Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID)

During 2018/19, on average, there were 15,600 cases in the SAID program and 18,800 beneficiaries. These numbers rose sharply in the two years after eligibility was expanded in 2012 and have risen at a slower pace since then. 

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Table: SK Data

SAP – Saskatchewan Assistance Program
TEA – Transitional Employment Allowance
SAID – Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability

Data notes

  • Transitional Employment Allowance was introduced in 2003.
  • Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability was introduced in 2009 and expanded in June 2012.
  • The data reflects the average number of cases and beneficiaries over the fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
  • The numbers do not include First Nations living on reserves.
  • Click here for more information about how the data is gathered