Feds working on ‘wrinkle’ that excluded AISH recipients from $500 rent top up


The federal government is working on a “policy wrinkle” that made Albertans who rely on Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) payments ineligible for the $500 rent top-up payment.

In December 2022, the Government of Canada opened applications for the one-time top-up as part of the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB) program — an initiative that would put $500 in the pockets of low-income renters as rent costs soar across the country.

To qualify, renting families must have a net income of less than $35,000 a year or renting individuals must make less than $20,000. AISH recipients receive just a few hundred dollars over that annually.

“There’s a wrinkle in the policy,” said Edmonton MP and Liberal minister Randy Boissonnault, while in Edmonton for a tourism announcement Tuesday.

“What’s happened is — we set the threshold at — you have to be making $20,000 and less to have access to the $500 top up. In the case of AISH recipients here in Alberta, they actually make $20,244.

“This is a terrible policy wrinkle. I don’t like it. I’m working with (the Ministries of) Finance and Housing to figure out a solution to solve it.”

When Global News reached out in December, the office of the federal minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion and CMHC provided a joint statement, saying the one-time top-up to the CHB would help nearly two million renters who are struggling with the cost of housing.

The statement also said: “this measure is a top-up to the already existing CHB, which includes the Canada-Alberta Housing Benefit. This federally-led and jointly funded program is administered directly to Albertans in need of rental assistance, based on low incomes determined through criteria available on the government of Alberta’s website.”

On Dec. 15, 2022, Alberta asked the federal government to adjust the income requirement, saying the current limit makes tens of thousands of Albertans with disabilities ineligible.

“We were on this way before we saw the letter from the premier,” Boissonnault said Tuesday.

“I’ve talked to residents in my own riding and residents across Alberta, and we’re working on a fix.

“It’s one of those oversights. I want to make sure AISH recipients and people who make less than $20,000 who are entitled to the $500 top up are able to get it.”

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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