Updated: Government increases maternal nutritional allowance by 76 per cent

Jacob Boon
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$51 a month is still not enough says policy analyst.

New and expecting mothers receiving income assistance will be getting an additional boost from the province.

The NDP government announced today that it will increase the maternal nutritional allowance by 76 per cent.

The allowance is designed so that low-income Nova Scotian women with newborns or who are pregnant can afford healthy food. 

"We know how important it is for pregnant women and new mothers to have access to nutritious food," said Minister of Community Services Denise Peterson-Rafuse, in a press release. "By increasing the maternal nutritional allowance, we are making it a priority to improve the health of pregnant women and new mothers on income assistance. 

Effective October 1, the allowance will increase from $29 to $51 a month. It is available for the duration of a woman's pregnancy, and the year after the child's birth.

The increase puts Nova Scotia in line with other province’s allowances, but the amount is still not very much according to some.

“We would like to see these allowances reflect reality of some kind,” says Christine Saulnier, director of the Canadian Centre for Policy. “What is the allowance supposed to pay for?”

With a poverty gap in the thousands of dollars per year, Saulnier points out that any extra money is likely just to go help pay for shelter, electricity or whatever immediate need isn’t being meant.

“The food budget is the only discretionary money in the household,” Saulnier says. “And mothers are the ones who usually sacrifice their food for the family.”

According to the province, about 850 women receive the maternal nutritional allowance each month. 

The province also recently increased the personal use allowance for income assistance recipients by $17 a month.

This is the third year in a row the province has increased the allowance, part of an overall 22 per cent increase in income assistance since 2009. 

The personal allowance for an individual receiving income assistance, which can also be used to purchase food, is now $255 per month, per adult.


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