Welfare in Canada

Saskatchewan

Last updated: December 2021
Revised: May 2022

This resource is not intended to help individuals identify what government transfers they could be entitled to. Individuals living in Saskatchewan seeking financial assistance should visit this page.

Components of welfare incomes

In Saskatchewan, households that qualify for basic social assistance payments also qualify for:

  • Recurring additional social assistance payments from the province;
  • Federal child benefits (for households with children); and
  • Federal and provincial tax credits or benefits.

Together, these combine to form a household’s total welfare income. Households may receive less if they have income from other sources, or more if they have special health- or disability-related needs. In 2020, these households were also eligible for benefits introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The table below shows the value of the welfare income components of the four example household types in Saskatchewan in 2020. All four households are assumed to be living in Saskatoon. The child in the single parent family is two years old and the children in the couple household are ten and 15. COVID-19 pandemic-related payments are included in the basic social assistance, child benefit, and tax credit/benefits amounts, where applicable.

Components of welfare incomes, 2020

Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

* Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) is a needs-tested income support program introduced in 2009 to support individuals in residential care. It was expanded in 2012 for people with significant and enduring disabilities living independently.

Total annual welfare incomes in 2020 ranged from $11,704 for the unattached single considered employable to $34,103 for the couple with two children. The unattached single with a disability received $16,564, and the single parent with one child received $24,944.

Basic social assistance: Three of the household types received benefits from the Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) program, which was introduced in July 2019 for all new recipients of income support in Saskatchewan, replacing the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) and Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA). The unattached single with a disability received benefits from the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program.

In previous years, two unattached single with a disability households were included in our reports; one received benefits from SAP and one from SAID. No new entrants were taken into SAP in 2020, with that program expected to be fully phased out by summer 2021, and thus the SAP disability category is no longer included in our analysis.

Basic SIS benefit amounts, made up of an adult benefit and a shelter benefit, were higher than those of the TEA program, which were comprised of a general living allowance, a pre-employment allowance, and, for the purposes of our report, an average utilities amount for each household type.

All four households received a COVID-19 pandemic-related payment of $50 per adult in April 2020.

Additional social assistance: The unattached single with a disability received $840 ($70 per month) in additional social assistance benefits through the Disability Income Benefit. The annual School Expenses Allowance previously provided through TEA was not available to the couple with two school-aged children receiving SIS.

Federal child benefits: Both households with children received the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), which increased with inflation in July 2020 from $553.25 to $563.75 per month for a child under six years of age and from $466.83 to $475.67 per month for a child aged six to 17. In addition, they received a one-time COVID-19 pandemic-related CCB top-up payment of $300 per child in May.

Provincial child benefits: Saskatchewan does not currently have a child benefit program.

Federal tax credits / benefits: All four households received the GST/HST credit, which increased in July 2020 with inflation. The unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability both received $293, the single parent with one child received $586, and the couple with two children received $894. The unattached single with a disability also received $111 through the GST/HST credit supplement, while the single parent with one child received the full amount of $154.

A one-time COVID-19 pandemic-related GST/HST credit top-up payment, delivered in April 2020, provided the basic amount of $290 to the unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability. The single parent with one child received $733 and the couple with two children received $886.

All four households also received the new federal climate action incentive (CAI) payment. The unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability received the basic CAI payment amount for Saskatchewan of $405. The single parent with one child received the basic amount plus the single parent’s qualified dependant amount of $202, for a total of $607. The couple with two children received the basic amount, a spouse amount of $250, and the qualified dependant amount of $101 for each child, for a total of $809.

Provincial tax credits / benefits: All four households received the Saskatchewan Low-Income Tax Credit (SLITC), which provides annual amounts of $346 for an individual, an additional $346 for a partner or eligible dependant, and $136 per child (for up to two children).

COVID-19 pandemic-related payments

Pandemic-related payments available to the example Saskatchewan households came from both federal programs (i.e., the GST/HST credit and Canada Child Benefit) and provincial programs (i.e., the pandemic-related payment for households receiving social assistance), with more provided through federal programs. In total, the unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability received an additional $340 related to the pandemic, the single parent with one child received $1,083, and the couple with two children received $1,586. These amounts are included in, and are not in addition to, the benefits described in the Components section above.

COVID-19 pandemic-related payments, 2020

Changes to welfare incomes

The graphs below show how the total welfare incomes for each of the five example household types in Saskatchewan have changed over time. Note that the values are in 2020 constant dollars, and not in nominal dollars. This takes into account the effect of inflation as measured by the national consumer price index given that inflation reduces real dollar values over time.

The welfare income of the unattached single considered employable has been relatively stable over the time series, with variability in the mid-1990s and mid- 2000s, and a gradual decline between 2009 and 2019. In 2020, however, the welfare income increased to the highest value over the 34-year time series, from $8,891 to $11,704, a jump of $2,813 or nearly 32 per cent. This increase was due primarily to the new basic social assistance benefit amounts, as well as the new climate action incentive benefit and COVID-19 pandemic-related payments.

The trend in welfare incomes for the unattached single with a disability who qualified for the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program has only been tracked since 2013, after the program became available to those living independently. After peaking at $16,666 in 2015, incomes declined until 2019, and increased again in 2020 to $16,564, due primarily to the introduction of the climate action incentive and COVID-19 pandemic-related payments.

The welfare income of both households with children has followed a similar trajectory, with declines through the 1990s and mid-2000s followed by sharp fluctuations through the late 2000s. Thereafter, the income of both households generally increased. Changes to federal child benefits account for increases to the welfare incomes of households with children between 2015 and 2017. The new basic social assistance benefit amounts, the introduction of the climate action incentive, and COVID-19 pandemic-related payments account for the sharp increase in 2020.

In 2020, the welfare income of the single parent with one child was $24,944, while that of the couple with two children was $34,103, both of which are the highest across the time series.

Adequacy of welfare incomes

The adequacy of a household’s total welfare income can be assessed by comparing it to a set threshold of poverty and/or low income.

In Canada, there are two commonly used measures of poverty:

  • Canada’s Official Poverty Line, the Market Basket Measure (MBM), identifies households whose disposable income is less than the cost of a basket of goods and services that represent a basic standard of living.
  • Deep Income Poverty (MBM-DIP) identifies households whose disposable income is less than 75 per cent of the MBM.

There are also two commonly used measures of low income:

  • The Low Income Measure (LIM) identifies households whose income is substantially below what is typical in society (less than half of the median income).
  • The Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) identifies households that are likely to spend a disproportionately large share of their income on the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter.

Note that MBM thresholds vary by province and community size, and LICO thresholds vary by community size, and so those for Saskatoon are used in the analysis below. As well, both the MBM and LIM thresholds are estimates based on increasing the 2019 thresholds to account for inflation.

Note also that none of the poverty or low-income measures currently in use in Canada account for the higher cost of living faced by persons with disabilities and thus these additional costs are not reflected in our analysis.

More information about the thresholds is available in the methodology section.

A table containing comparisons of the welfare incomes of the four example household types in Saskatchewan with all four poverty / low-income thresholds is available for download.

Poverty threshold comparisons

The figures below compare welfare incomes for the four example household types to the MBM and MBM-DIP thresholds for Saskatoon.

The welfare incomes of all four example household types in Saskatchewan were below Canada’s Official Poverty Line in 2020, meaning all these households were living in poverty. Three of the four households were also living in deep poverty in 2020, as defined by the MBM-DIP.

The unattached single considered employable had the lowest income relative to the poverty thresholds. Their income was $5,929 below the deep income poverty threshold and $11,806 below the poverty line. This means their income was only 66 per cent of the MBM-DIP and only 50 per cent of the MBM.

The unattached single with a disability fared better, with an income that was $1,069 below the deep income poverty threshold and $6,946 below the poverty line. In other words, their income was 94 per cent of the MBM-DIP and 70 per cent of the MBM.

Note that the poverty experienced by persons with disabilities is under- represented given that neither the MBM nor the MBM-DIP account for the additional costs of disability.

The welfare income of the single parent with one child was highest relative to the poverty lines among the four example households. Their income was $8 above the deep income poverty threshold and $8,304 below the poverty line. This means their income was slightly above 100 per cent of the MBM-DIP but only 73 per cent of the MBM.

The welfare income of the couple with two children was $1,162 below the deep income poverty threshold and $12,917 below the poverty line. In other words, their income was 97 per cent of the MBM-DIP and 73 per cent of the MBM.

Low-income threshold comparisons

The welfare incomes of these households were also below the low-income thresholds, as shown in the table linked above.

The lowest income relative to these thresholds was that of the unattached single considered employable, whose total welfare income was between 46 per cent of the LIM and 63 per cent of the LICO. The highest was that of the single parent with one child, who had a welfare income of 70 per cent of the LIM and 110 per cent of the LICO.

The unattached single with a disability had a welfare income of 65 per cent of the LIM and 89 per cent of the LICO. The couple with two children had a welfare income that was 67 per cent of the LIM and 97 per cent of the LICO.

Changes to adequacy of welfare incomes

The graph below shows the total welfare incomes of each of the four example household types in Saskatchewan since 2002 as a percentage of the MBM, which indicates changes in their level of poverty over time. A rise in the trendline indicates an improvement in their level of poverty while a decline indicates a worsening of their poverty.

Note that the MBM thresholds reflect the base in use in each year in question (i.e., the 2000, 2008, and 2018 bases; the latter two are indicated with vertical lines in each graph). Rebasing creates a sufficiently higher threshold than that using a previous base, which typically results in a worsening of poverty in the year in which the new base is used. As noted above, MBM thresholds vary by province and community size, and so Saskatoon is used. Also note that the 2020 MBM thresholds are estimates. More information is in the methodology section.

The welfare income of the unattached single considered employable began the time series at 48 per cent of the poverty line, and, despite fluctuations in 2006 and 2018, ended the time series at 50 per cent, virtually the same level as 19 years prior. An improvement in their level of poverty was seen in 2006, followed by a decline with the 2008 MBM rebasing. Thereafter, a steady decline until 2017 was followed by a sharper decline with the 2018 MBM rebasing, and a drop to 38 per cent in 2019. An increase in 2020 saw their income stand at 50 per cent of the poverty line.

The welfare income of the unattached single with a disability receiving SAID benefits improved relative to the poverty line between 2013 (when the program became available to those living independently) and 2017, from 77 to 82 per cent. This was followed by a significant decline to 69 per cent with the 2018 MBM rebasing. Their income ended the time series at 70 per cent of the poverty line in 2020, meaning their level of poverty increased over the eight-year span.

The welfare income of the single parent with one child saw fluctuations across the time series but ended at about the same level as it began. In 2002 their income was 71 per cent of the poverty line and remained at about that level until a significant uptick to 81 per cent in 2006. The 2008 MBM rebasing saw a decline to 74 per cent, which was followed by relative stagnation at that level until 2016. The 2018 MBM rebasing saw a decline from 79 per cent to 65 per cent of the poverty line. After two years at about that level, their income rose in 2020 to 75 per cent.

The welfare income of the couple with two children followed a very similar trendline to that of the single parent with one child, starting and ending the 19-year span at almost the same level relative to the poverty line. After starting in 2002 at 74 per cent of the poverty line, a high of 79 per cent was reached in 2006 with a low of 65 per cent in 2019. Rebasing in 2008 and 2018 resulted in a worsening of their poverty. Their 2020 income was 73 per cent of the poverty line.