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Southern Alberta family facing tough times due to AISH benefit policies

A Raymond, Alta., family of eight is struggling after their Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped was cut in half because of Workers' Compensation Board coverage. A Raymond, Alta., family of eight is struggling after their Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped was cut in half because of Workers' Compensation Board coverage.
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LETHBRIDGE -

A Raymond, Alta., family of eight is struggling after their Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) was cut in half because of Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) coverage.

The family says changes to certain policies need to be made to prevent the same thing from happening to others.

It's been 10 months since Andrew Smith, a husband and father of six, re-injured his knee at work and had to go on workers' compensation while waiting for surgery.

Following a review last month of his wife's AISH, their benefits were cut by almost $1,000.

"We are a low-income family on AISH," Smith said.

"I work, or did work, until I got injured in August and this month, we woke up to find that over half our benefit was cut from AISH because I’m on WCB because I got injured at work."

They say they were informed by AISH they are unable to collect two supplementary incomes despite the current situation.

"In my mind, workers' compensation is an insurance policy," Smith told CTV News.

"Whereas, with programs like EI, you're starting new and so I don't think they should be considered the same and that's the issue with the policy."

The Office of the Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services issued the following statement to CTV News:

"A family can earn up to $2,612 per month with no deductions to an individual’s AISH benefits. Whereas, a spouse or partner receiving WCB can earn up to $875 per month without deductions. Seventy-five per cent of income earned over that amount would be deducted."

Smith says they reached out to AISH to see what could be done and were told the policies are set by the provincial and federal governments.

"They finally got back to us and told us that there's nothing they can do about the policy, however, they'll do everything they can to keep our family in our home."

Smith says they're grateful for the help and support from their friends, family and landlord, but any public fundraising effort like a GoFundMe would further cut their benefits.

"I'd like the government to actually look into these policies that haven't been changed for 20 or 30 years," Smith said.

"They need to be looked at. They need to be rewritten, and with the idea that these programs are to help Albertans."

Smith is on a waiting list for knee surgery, but it may take until the fall before he can get back to work and off WCB.

CTV News reached out to Grant Hunter, MLA for the Taber-Warner riding, but has yet to hear back.

The Smiths say they've been speaking with Hunter with hopes to meet in person early next week.                                                    

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