Social assistance is a controversial topic. Some people see it as an essential measure that aids those who are in dire need. However, others think it’s too restrictive and that the funds should be used on other things like improving infrastructure in order to improve the economy of a city or community at large. Regardless of how you feel, social assistance is here to stay, and we must find ways to make sure its money is used appropriately.
This article will explore the deposits made into various bank accounts when social assistance recipients make withdrawals from their accounts and how these deposits are disbursed when needed by society.
New Brunswick social assistance is deposited directly into a person’s bank account. This occurs so that people who receive their benefits can go to any ATM in the province and withdraw cash from their account. There is no need to have special ATMs installed that only give out social assistance. This gives people the freedom of choice to use an ATM in the city they live, rather than having to travel a long distance just to get their money either by making an appointment or going through their local office with limited hours of operation. You can also save yourself some time and effort by using your own bank’s ATM if it offers English language menus, instead of having to listen for a few seconds before selecting what language you want it to display its menu in.
When social assistance is deposited into a bank account, it is dispensed to the recipient when they make a withdrawal. This is the same way many other public assistance programs work, such as welfare and oda. The details of how this happens vary by province and by program. In NB however, it works as follows:
When a person makes an ATM withdrawal , the bank deducts 3% of the withdrawal as a fee to cover its costs related to providing this service. Each year, that amount is added to the previous year’s total fee so that when a person one day withdraws their own funds, they will be charged that amount again.
When a person makes a withdrawal from the bank itself , no fee is charged. Note that using the branch’s ATM does not result in an automatic withdrawal, so if you are making a cash withdrawal with the intent of depositing it into your account elsewhere, you need to make sure your receipt shows “direct deposit.”
The rest of the money is disbursed as follows:
50% will go to the person’s rent or mortgage. This payment is sent directly to their landlord to cover any arrears they may have outstanding. If they have no arrears, this amount continues on to their next rent/mortgage payment until they run out of social assistance payments. If they continue to receive ATM withdrawals from their account, the system will just keep topping them up until all their rent/mortgage is covered.
30% goes towards the monthly cost of basic needs. This is usually sent to a vendor, if possible one that is located near their home or one that gives loyalty points for purchases. If there are no vendors in their area, this amount may be sent directly to them during an ATM withdrawal.
10% goes towards any other expenses they have during that month, such as food, hygiene products or transportation and is also sent directly to them during an ATM withdrawal. Any amount remaining after these amounts are deducted is paid out as cash when they make withdrawals from the bank itself .
Any unused money in their account at the end of the month will be carried over into their next month’s allocation.
The government expects social assistance recipients to have a chequing account, and they must inform their local office if they change their bank account. Any amount beyond what is needed to cover rent/mortgage and basic needs (after 50% is taken out) cannot be retained by recipients. This amount is returned to the provincial government and can be used on infrastructure projects or other projects that the government is working on. This system has been found to work well in New Brunswick, and allows for social assistance benefits to be easily withdrawn from anywhere in the province when needed .
There is one other aspect of the social assistance program that needs consider when using their ATM: cashing out. The rules differ slightly depending on whether you are withdrawing cash from an ATM in your bank or another vendor.
Withdrawing from ATMs in a bank: If you’re withdrawing cash, the maximum amount that can be withdrawn is $500 per week ($2,500 per month). If you withdraw more than this, you must inform the bank to ensure that your account does not get overdrawn and to prevent abuse of the system.
Withdrawing from another vendor: You have no limits for withdrawals at other vendors .
Once again, the intention of this article was not to give an overall picture of the social assistance program, but rather to simply inform regarding how and when it is used in New Brunswick. The system has proven to be efficient for those who need assistance, although there are still upcoming changes that the provincial government hopes to implement.
All in all though, I think that this system is mostly fair and allows people receiving financial aid to have some freedom over their own finances at the same time providing help when they really need it or want it.