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Extend welfare to students: Group - Metro US

Extend welfare to students: Group

A student advocacy group is calling on the provincial government to extend social assistance to post-secondary hopefuls.

The Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Federation of Students is taking issue with Regulation 67 in the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act, which prohibits those pursuing a post-secondary degree from collecting social assistance.

“By next year 89 per cent of jobs in the province will require some form of post-secondary education,” Kaley Kennedy, chairwoman of the CFSNS, said at a press conference about the issue yesterday at Mount Saint Vincent University.

“By shutting students out of social assistance, the government is also preventing those students from accessing the jobs that they need to earn a living wage.”

Kennedy said the NDP promised to repeal Regulation 67 before last year’s election, but have yet to follow through.

She cited a CFS questionnaire sent out to the NDP in May 2009, in which party officials simply answered “Yes” to a long question concerning repealing the regulation.

Community Services spokeswoman Linda Laffin said the government will keep its promise. But it may take time, as the government is in the process of overhauling the entire ESIA Act.

“In keeping with the government’s commitment, these post-secondary programs will be examined to insure that income assistance clients can continue to access post-secondary education,” Laffin said.

“It’s a definite yes … (the) government will repeal Regulation 67.”

Laffin said she couldn’t speculate on a timeline for the overhaul. She said the reason Regulation 67 has yet to be repealed is because it is but one component to a large and complicated system.

“It’s just one piece of the entire re-design,” said Laffin.

“It will be examined under the umbrella of entire ESIA program … It’s a huge project … that requires a whole different way of looking at things, perhaps some shifts in philosophy and how we do things.”

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