AISH recipients not included in Alberta coronavirus emergency relief

Calgary AISH recipient feels unseen amid COVID-19 pandemic.

The Alberta Legislature. HUGH LEE / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Persons receiving Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) benefits are asking why the government is excluding them from COVID-19 relief programs.

Phillip Shaw, an incomplete paraplegic living in Calgary, receives $1,685 per month through the province’s AISH program.

Coupled with the income he used to receive working part-time, Shaw made around $2,200 a month.

“I don’t get to save much, I don’t get to travel, and I certainly cannot afford to eat out or order in,” he said.

Due to the recent government push for self-isolation, Shaw hasn’t been able to work, leaving him to rely solely on the money he receives through AISH.

“I’m almost offended seeing people complaining about not being able to live off $2,000 a month. Myself and others have to live off $1,700,” Shaw said.

Province said AISH recipients already receive government supports

Alberta’s Community and Social Services spokeswoman, Diane Carter, confirmed that as of right now, there are no programs in place to offer additional aid to persons receiving AISH.

“Because they are already receiving a source of income, they do not meet the qualifications for the other programs,” said Carter.

Earlier this year, the province moved AISH payments to the first of the month, or the day before if it fell on a weekend.

That’s already caused some anxiety among recipients that they may be unable to pay their rent or certain bills when they come due.

‘…We can’t see you’

Shaw said that not only has his income been reduced, but his cost of living has increased.

“My physio has been cancelled, leaving me back to taking potent medication and basically sleeping for 18 hours a day,” said Shaw.

Shaw said the exclusion from the Alberta government sends a pretty clear message to anyone living with disabilities.

“You’re living under the basic cost of living, but we can’t see you,” said Shaw.

Due to Shaw’s medical condition, he’s considered a high-risk candidate for contracting coronavirus, making it imperative that he self-isolates.

“My grocery bill has gone up by about a third due to ordering online and delivery,” said Shaw.

“I question why we are not being given a chance to take at least a partial amount of the $1,100 Emergency Needs Allowance offered today by the Alberta government,” he said.

Push for more AISH support

Shaw has been in contact with Calgary – Mountain View MLA Kathleen Ganley’s office in hopes that more funding can become available.

“They’ve been pushing for more support, but they said they just aren’t getting much of a response from the government,” said Shaw.

Shaw said he’s frustrated that despite being contributing members of society, AISH recipients are being overlooked and undervalued.

“I worked full time for this country since I was 15. I paid taxes and I volunteer more than I would have ever imagined and I feel that myself and others have a right to not be counting pennies in a time of crisis,” he said.


  1. I agree. The disabled are all at high risk in these times. They do not have the funds to stock up on food for 3 or 4 months at a time to help reduce the risk. They should be able in these times to get 3 months of medicine at once for safety’s sake. They should at least receive $500. Emergency food funds every 4 months in order to reduce the risk to their health and be able to stock food for those few months!

  2. I think its great that everyone gets to feel what its like to be stuck at home relying on a small amount of help putting thier budget able skills to the test. I hope they learn something from walking a mile in our shoes and make more informed decisions in the future after the smoke of the covid 19 clears. Budgeting 1600 a month is a challenge but possible with Austerity measures in practice and a bit of sidejobige. But hey what is the real virus here anyways? Food for thought!

  3. I am on Aish as well, and I have a plethora of chronic illnesses which have prevented me from working for years! On top of it, because of the conditions and potent medications I have been on most of my life, I have continuously been getting more complications. With those complications come more surgeries and medications, which cause severe interactions and more complications. It is literally a never ending cycle, and it gets harder and harder to get through regular daily life already. Now with this horrible unfortunate covid19 crisis, it is even harder for myself and many other Canadians who suffer from chronic illnesses and disabilities. I feel the same way as Phillip, and I believe that we should at least be eligible to get half of the emergency benefits which people who are able to work are getting. When I was younger I also worked and I played taxes. I worked until I physically could no longer work, and it is now a huge struggle for myself, just as many other Canadians on disability who are in my position to get by in this horrible and dark time. As well with my chronic conditions I too am at high risk of contacting covid19, which is extremely frightening and so I have not been going out at all. I do not want to put myself or anyone else at risk! We need the extra help, and I definitely feel we are not being heard as well. I am grateful that I receive Aish, which I would not be able to survive if I didn’t have it, however, it is getting much more difficult to get by then usual. If I had the health I would work and do what I could to contribute to society, however, I do not have the choice too. I am definitely begging that the government hears us and our plea for extra help as we do not have the health to work, and some of us do not have the support systems that others have as well. Thank you for taking your time to read my message. I wish everyone the best, that you will be well and stay safe.

  4. I have two kids and I’m on disability. Pushing the date back to April 1 before I get my tiny income is cruel right now. I feel forgotten about.

    • just wait until December, we no longer get Januarys payment before Christmas to give us a little extra for the holiday. we’ll get it on Dec 31st, Christmas this year is going to be very very light.

  5. Alberta Income support clients receive 700 a month.. I have PTSD, DDD, GAE and Bipolar. I havent applied for Aish because I am terrified they will say no. I met many many people on Aish who dont have anything wrong with them except they are lazy. One pretends he cannot speak english when he can which is why I hate the world, life, and, people. The worst people get ahead and take over or take advantage..

    • Just so you know that Aish will never approve an application for anyone just because they don’t speak English if they do half of the country will be on Aish. I advise you to apply for Aish if you have these problems and a doctor that would back you up they don’t have a reason to deny you.

      • i have been unable to work for four years due to medical reasons and applied for aish and was turned down because I am unable to work. That just does not make sense to me, I am only allowed 400 for rent which is impossiable , applied for calgary housing and have been on list for over a year, they told me I would have to get rid of my dog I had for ten years or move to the south of city which I know nobody, and all medical appts are in nw, I cannot travel that far on calgary transit. I don’t qualify for any benifits what so ever, I have no idea what to do next, no money to even move. Nobody cares about people with disabilities it seems.

      • Just wanted to post for people like christine whom I can’t reply to.
        When I originally started the application process every doctor I spoke to along the way warned me right out the gate that they almost never just approve an application anymore, if I intended to get on the program I almost had a 100% chance I would need to appeal the decision. Once you appeal you are put back in a queue but this time for a physical meeting with an impartial comity and an AISH representative that reviews both your case and the reason AISH rejected you, assuming you have a legitimate case there’s a good chance they will find in your favor (the whole thing is like a small trial, I even had to bring witnesses).
        My experience with the whole process made me feel like the initial rejection letter is simply another hurdle to scare off people as the appeal is fairly daunting, had I not had my family and doctors pushing me to keep with it the whole time I can easily see just quitting there myself.

    • Aish is very strict about who they approve. People do not qualify if they are just lazy. If you think that then it doesn’t make sense you would say you are afraid they will say no if you think it’s that easy to qualify. You will qualify if you have actual provable physical or mental disabilities and have a doctor or psychiatrist who knows your history and will fill out the forms for you. If you have the conditions you stated then you should apply. It can take some time but it’s worth it. it took my psychiatrist a few years of getting to know my me and my medical history until she agreed to help me apply.

    • If they deny you do not be afraid to appeal it, that’s what I had to do because it was so much easier to explain my situation in person. I wrote a letter of what it was like to live a day in my life and I read it to them and within 4 days I was approved (after waiting a year and a half)

    • I am in the same situation as you, they seem to have completly forgotton about us all together. i suspect that there will be a lot of bad things happening to ppl who really need help and just get forgotton about.

    • I have 12 dignosed disorders/illnesses an i was denied the 1st time accepted the 2nd time. Most do get denied but more get approved the 2nd time

  6. Maybe the government should try for themselves living off $ 1685 for a few months, see how quickly there mind would change then. If you haven’t walk in a persons shoes with a daily struggle here to survive in Canada when you have illness and disability a lot from working hard all your lifetime, and then you got the federal and provincial government kicking you in the teeth!! But what goes around comes around Mr. Trudeau or premier’s you are not immune or exempt from anything in this life . Sometimes it’s a warning to your government (karma) the Canadian people voted you in government show more empathy and respect for them. We are your Canadian flock ! Treat us all equally. We middle class and low income do without a lot off times to help others Would you has a prime minister off Canada do it for us. I’m thinking NOT. Remember YOU PEOPLE may see a time also when you can have only bread and water. Never over estimate that there is not an higher power that can take away from your high pedestal you are on and drop you right to the bark of a tree.

  7. Heres a thought… try being a dysabled almost senior raising your special needs grandson while recieving $1294 on income support while waiting for the over 6 month wait to reinstate/reapply for AISH !….it is nearly impossible to make ends meet and with the added stress of being vaunrable health wise to covid 19 and the added stress of home schooling with no in-home aid it can seem hopeless!

  8. Hey at least some get the 1600 a month, I’m a single mom on income support waiting on application to process. It’s myself and 2 kids and I recieve 798 monthly, I understand that it’s hard with fixed income but there are ways to deal with this unpredicted situation. We are in this together so let’s try to pull together and help were we can.

    • Go to your dovtor and get a lettef stating exactly this “it is in so and so’s brst interest that they do not move this is am extra 300 every month then ask for medical transportaiin and special diet on a seperate sheet when they ask what the speciak diet is just say ur trying ti eat more healthy and therefore have to buy fruit and vegtabkes more often then there is 2 otger special diets u can get but the first two are 56 and 72 428 extra on your cheque every month

    • I agree that those on income support are in desperate need too. You may not have to deal with a daily illness but you also get less money. But even though I’ve only received AISH for a few years I’ve seen a lot of life and have known people on both AISH and Income Support and we are missing out on the main reason things for us never change. FEAR.
      Our benefits can be stopped if we even look at someone sideways even though legally we are entitled to the benefits if we can prove our needs, financial and/or physical. We are told that we can “appeal” the situation if we are cut off (and would probably win) but it will take weeks to process. And we all live so close to the edge that even just being a few days late with our rent will make us homeless! So NONE of us dare make waves and are afraid to speak up lest we are discovered and our benefits are stopped. We are definitely united, but how will it ever change until someone NOT vulnerable to the Government in this way takes up our cause to help us? LL

  9. I think that is unfair that AISH recipients are left out of more money the government doesn’t care about us

  10. They take dollar for dollar off so that $2,000 my wife makes causes me to loose all of AISH, AISH is made to hold you back, I always said that, I think it is unfair that my WIFE makes money and I loose money, we have separate accounts

  11. I understand one can be frustrated not recieving more help!! But at least you have a income coming in. And a few of my friends on aish get rent subsidized . I’m pretty sure most of you get that too. So be happy.
    I know lots of people that have no job at the moment do to coronavirus and 2000 dont do nothing when they have a mortgage of 1500 and heat and water bill etc .lots of people are losing their business their houses .so be thankful for what you have

  12. I am on AISH, I am too wondering why we are being left out of any kind of extra help, when this Pandemic has affected every human. What happened to whats good for one should be good for all, working or not able to?? I am frustrated and at times find it hard to believe that the government would see that we the vulnerable dont suffer enough now we are totally being left out!!

  13. I can’t agree more! As a single parent it’s impossible to pay all my bills and still have money for food at the end of the month! Especially with how increasingly high the electric and gas bills have been! It’s a shame that we are not being recognized for emergency assistance at this time! Its also a shame that new immigrants coming into Canada receive between $2,000 & 3,000/mth… yet I’m a born and bred Albertan who makes LESS than $1,700/mth!! I’ve never been so ashamed of Canada’s leaders as I have been the last several years!!

  14. I totally agree and would like to add that income support persons were excluded too, such as myself (I’m classsofied on income support as “Batriedd t’sA to Full Employment” but there are other categories such as “Expected to Wprk” as well). I receive a mere $656/ mo. It used to be $97 higher, an amount they used to provide me for medical transportation, but in February – without any prior notice or personal inquiry, the provincial government just eliminated that from our support cheque ($1164/yr just suddenly gone) and after
    Inquiring they told me, and others I saw in various articles online, that they eliminated it because they’re planning on giving these programs a low income transportation access for transit I guess, but what help does transit do if you live in the suburbs and there is no transit?! Or rural and you can’t even get to town at all now?!

    I think all of these programs should be able to at least be given equal $2000/mo for the same amount of time as other people in Alberta, considering the amount we receive is much lower, and as the person in this article stated, our bills have drastically increased due to coronavirus and the government restrictions. Also, our quality of life has been impacted greatly due to the inability to access our regular services for health and wellness, ex: mental health, physio, therapy, workshop groups, suppprt groups, etc.

  15. I understand what other AISH receipts are going through. I had been diagnosed with chronic depression. I cannot work. I am dependent on AISH. I am participating in CASS programs to manage AISH benefits and rebuilding my life. Due to the impact of COVID 19, the CASS office is closed until further notice. As a direct result of this closure, all benefits must be redistributed through the postal system which is already backlogged. I cannot access the funding necessary to keep me stable. Everything had been pushed back minimal five to ten business days. This is starting to affect my well being and my mental conditions. We need intervention from the government immediately to resolve these issues before their domino effect get worse.

  16. The only way we are gonna get help is go public ,like as bad as it is in these times of life is protest ,but we all have to come together to be heard

  17. We do need to push for more help for those on AISH…I agree with this article. The provincial Government should be ashamed to have people living on 1,500.00 / month especially at this time when everyone else is getting benefits of 2,000.00/ month during the crisis. People on AISH are experiencing the same difficulties.

  18. People in power are greedy, and lack leadership and lack empathy for the vulnerable. They spend taxpayers money for luxuries they do not need and to make these people suffer without extra funds is cruel. This matter has to addressed, I am not a aish recipient, but I have a heart for those who are disabled. It is absolutey degrading and hopefully these people making these decisions could end up
    being disabled themselves. Why would immigrants receive a monthly allowance of 3000,00 per month are our own most vulnerqble ARE TREATED DISGUSTING AND NOT ACEPTABLE. t

    • It took me three years to get AISH. Fybromyalga, arthritis, severe depression and anxiety and nerve damage. Its very hard to take the bus and I don’t drive. My rent is not subsidized as the wait list for housing is over a year. I have a roommate who is in the same boat. We pay $1295 for rent. She is on income support and gets less than me so I pay $800. She had to sell her car to cover bills. We are both high risk for covid. People rely on internet and cell phones so we still have those bills that just keep going up in cost. People on AISH and income support have the same living expenses as everyone else in the country, yet we are not getting any help during covid. They just capped AISH so there are no longer cost of living increases. Any help would be great even if it was $200 a month. Canada pension plan disabily is part of AISH for many as well as those on just CPPD which is taxed. The government is only now helping seniors, the disabled are vulnerable as well. We are all deserving of the same treatment.

  19. well what about the mentally ill I have heard of one person on AISH that is mentally ill and people told him to apply for the COVID payments so being the way he is and not understanding the rules or law and not having a TV or computer to even be able to check things out which in this case would not help anyways as he can barley read anyways but listened to people that don’t know or don’t care if he gets harmed in the end its not them even when someone else told him your not suppose to get the COVID payment he just said yes I am I call and they pay me so its OK when he was told no that his AISH will be taken away he said no it can’t be that’s what I live on and this extra money is to help me order food in as I can not go out and get food and I can not take buses anymore I can only take cab rides and I was kicked out of my bedroom place because they were scared so now I am staying where ever I can and I pay where ever I am money to stay there and I get to take reg showers unlike when I just had AISH I could not afford a place with showers even just a room to sleep in as there is no place for me to live in Calgary that I can afford and when I go to look at the smallest of rooms that have showers and a fridge and stove after they meet me they always say no to me so your wrong this money is to help me right now they can not take my AISH away there not allowed to do that.
    So as a mentally ill person, he honestly is incapable of understanding that what he is doing is wrong all he understands is he calls this number and they give him money so it cannot be wrong otherwise they would not give him this money.
    So I would like to know how the government is going to deal with these types of people as far as I am concern they should just leave them alone they are the ones that did not do their job as they no darn well that there are a lot of mentally ill people that are incapable of understanding the whole COVID payment thing and they darn well could of set up alerts when someone on disability tried to apply for the COVID payment as everyone and I mean everyone on AISH or any other kind of disability payment has to supply their social insurance number so anyone and everyone on disability should of came up with a red flag on their system this is the governments fault it would not have been hard for them to do even if they missed a month but all the months they need to leave those people alone and call it a day and take responsibility for their mistakes in all of this I pray that they do not take these types of peoples AISH payments away or perhaps put them in jail even as they certainly will not be able to pay all that money back ever these people do not understand that what they did was truly wrong there not capable of understanding that and back in the day these types of people would have been in a home and cared for but the government closed all those places so now they live day by day most of them on the street and they get mistreated daily by people trying to take what they can from them as they are not able to see that people are taking them for whatever they can get they think everyone is there friend if there nice to them. So, In my opinion, the government now needs to own this as I do blame them I do understand they were trying to get the money to the people as fast as possible but they still should of red-flagged on persons on disability until they figured out who should get COVID payments and how much they should get if they qualify for it as I understand absolutely that some should have gotten something extra.
    I to would like to see all Government employees right from the very top and I mean the top with their families as on AISH they would get an extra 100 to 150 per child per month or about that much, if they have children to the high mid-range in salary, have to be made to live on 1,685.00 per month for three months and not just live on that I mean they should have to find a place to live and pay for food /cell phone as there are no more payphone booths cloths, etc. on that amount and just for fun add in the fact they cannot read or write and for an added bonus put them somewhere that speaks a slightly different language so they get to understand how the mentally ill in this country feel every day so just like them, they can’t understand if there doing the right thing or not maybe they are breaking the law maybe someone will take their monthly money away because they did not understand!!!! get it now???
    This is my opinion on this I hope the Government of Canada reads this and takes responsibility for the large cracks in their system when it comes to the most valuable people in Canada.

  20. I was hospitalized in Calgary at foothills hospital june 3rd 2014. 6 weeks later my neurologist sent my paper work in on my behalf. Rushed in due to cant work any more. Worked since i was 16 till the day i was hospitalized. 6 months later i was on aish. My question and no offense to any one is why do people applying to be Canadian and are accepted get more money and a tax break when us canadians on aish make less then minimum wage? I put in 8 years of work damn close to 9 years. I contributed to Canada. I payed taxes and yeat we are ghosts living under the radar. I was born in this country. Why arent we seen as equals??

  21. Getting enough people together for a class action lawsuit of some sort could be one of the best options that is available, although the legal experts would have to determine whether or not there is a ‘case’.

  22. there are a lot of ppl on aish and income support that they will have to take cheques away from there will be a lot of homeless starving people including children .They say in the recoding that if you are eligable you will recieve the money so how many slower pplthat are at grde 4 or lower levels are thinking they are entitled. Im sure there are many who thought they were eligable as they said only if you are will you get it

  23. I have nothing new to add except to verify that what everyone says is true. Except that the average Canadian has no concept of what this existence is like. Being in contact with Frontline workers means I often get a phonecall saying, “I’ve got COVID-19 so you’ll have to self-isolate”. I think, “Here I go again. More expenses.”
    I have no TV or cell phone in order to have enough for food and rent. I’m behind (2 months) in my Telus bill and will have my wifi and home phone (which unlocks the front door to my building) cut off three days after October 1. I called Telus and they tell me I pay the WHOLE bill or they disconnect me. I tried to make them understand the gravity of my situation in order to pay a portion of the bill and at least keep my home phone. But they won’t budge. I pay ALL or they disconnect. How will I survive with no phone or internet at all?!? I also have no family members. So I will gradually run out of food and will have no ability to even make a phone call. Will it be the smell of my decomposing corpse that will alert the neighbors? If you think I am exaggerating, try to imagine what you would do if you couldn’t physically go out, there is nobody to check on you, and no phone or internet. I will die from COVID-19 without ever contracting the disease. And no help is coming from AISH at all! I’ve called everyone I can think of but there just is no help. If I pay my TELUS bill I can’t pay my rent and am homeless. If I pay my rent, there isn’t enough money for the entire Telus bill. Mr. Shaw is correct. We are not seen! But maybe by leaving this statement here my desperate situation will make a difference along with the rest of your comments. But I still believe in a God that can do miracles and enough food for more than a week. So I ask you for your prayers as I have already been praying for all of you on AISH. I know you’ve been suffering and know those of you here will understand what I’m talking about because you are living in desperate situations too. Sincerely, LL

    • Thought I’d give an update to the desperate situation I described above, especially because I asked for prayers.
      I tried again to AISH to discover I WAS eligible for their emergency funds for a “one-time payment for utilities in arrears”. With this knowledge and even just the possibility of money coming, I talked to Telus again. They informed me I now owed another $128 added to my previous bill AND a late fee. However, with the possibility of money on the way and considering that in the past I have paid my bill faithfully, they decided to extend my “period of grace” for a month!
      It might all be very stressful, but I am learning patience and YOU are learning that God still hears our prayers. We are not invisible to Jesus. Thank you to all who said a prayer for me. I have said them for you too.
      Sincerely, Laura-Lee

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