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Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped

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Title: Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped  
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Subject: Reduced fare program, Welfare in Canada, Government of Alberta, Assistive technology, Medical model of disability
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Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped

The Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) is the legal name of a social welfare program and service offered only in Alberta, Canada, to nearly 46,000 Albertans.[1]

The AISH Act legislation, proclaimed on May 1, 2007, and updated as of November 1, 2010, defines a “severe handicap” as “adult Albertans with a permanent disability that severely impairs their ability to earn a living.” The legal definition in the legislation defines “severe handicap” as an impairment of mental or physical functioning or both that, in the AISH director’s findings, causes substantial limitation in the person’s ability to earn a livelihood. Also, he/she is likely to continue to be affected permanently because no remedial therapy is available that would materially improve the person’s ability to earn a regular livelihood. The final decision on a client's file status is made by the AISH director, after receiving any relevant medical or psychological reports from a qualified health professional(s).[2]

After winning the 2012 Alberta provincial election, Premier Alison Redford decided to shift the ministry responsible for the AISH program, from Seniors (to which it is now part of the new Health ministry) to the new Human Services ministry.

It is important to clarify the definition of “minister responsible” in so far as Alberta legislation is laden with intricate, interwoven provisions to give considerable legal and discretionary authority to the minister and the associate minister, as provided for in respective acts and regulation. But in terms of Crown liability, both ministers receive indemnity from actions brought against him or the Crown. In simple terms, no small claims lawsuit or civil suit may be brought against the ministers, the ministry of HS, its programs and services and all employees, boards, commissions, or personnel appointed by the AISH Director.[3][4]

In the 2004 provincial election, AISH was the subject of some controversy following supposedly derogatory remarks made by Premier Ralph Klein, stating, of a group of AISH recipients, "they didn't look handicapped to me."[5]


The benefits listed below for AISH recipients can be all or partially given to each client, based on need and on the discretion of the AISH Director. Also, as long as the AISH client has personal total net assets of less than C$100,000 (NOT including the assets of the primary residence AND mode of transportation, like a car), these benefits can be given to him/her.[2] To verify that the AISH benefits are given to the properly-selected clients, an honor system financial update must be given to his/her assigned AISH worker every calendar year. In other words, the AISH recipient must declare any monetary assets (like a savings account, bonds, etc.) and a given month's bank statements of transactions, in which an AISH base amount was deposited into.

However, the client cannot receive income from the national Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefits, while receiving the AISH monthly income and its health benefits at the same time.[3] When the AISH client reaches the minimum age of 65 for receiving full CPP, all AISH benefits terminate and the client's file is permanently closed. However, with the cooperation between AISH and CPP authorities, the AISH base monthly income amount becomes the monthly CPP one for the client at that moment.

Monthly Income

Every AISH recipient receives a base monthly payment of C$1,588 as of April 1, 2012.[1] However, for those living in an approved living facility (for example, a nursing home), the maximum base monthly amount is C$315 plus the monthly accommodation rate cost.[6]

Also, in addition to this monthly payment, a recipient can receive net employment income up to C$800 per month without his/her AISH income being affected. For families, it is up to net income of C$1,950 per month.[1]

For a client making net employment income between C$800 and C$1,500 a month, there is a 50% exemption of AISH income, for the maximum total income (employment + AISH) of C$2,738 a month. For families, the same 50% exemption applies to those making between C$1,950 to C$2,500 net income, for that maximum total income of C$3,813 a month.[7]

Monthly Income Comparisons

Along with AISH in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario have basically similar income support for persons with disabilities programs. In B.C. it is called the British Columbia Employment & Assistance for Persons with Disabilities (BCEA); the Ontario equivalent is called the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). The B.C. program gives their individual clients C$906 a month; the Ontario program provides theirs C$1,064 a month.[1]

Health Benefits

The following sections below are the main essential benefits an AISH recipient can have access to, along with the base monthly payment.[8]

Prescription Medications

Most prescription medications are paid for by AISH benefits. The majority of what a doctor will prescribe, from common antibiotics, to such medications as Ritalin and Zyprexa, is covered by AISH. However, there are medications, generally, although not always, newer medications, that are not covered by the benefits. Medication coverage is decided upon by a government committee.[9]

Dental Coverage

AISH allows for one yearly dental checkup and cleaning. In addition to this, AISH benefits also cover necessary fillings.[9]

Optical Coverage

AISH allows one routine eye exam and a new pair of eyeglasses every 2 years.[9]

Essential Diabetic Supplies

For AISH recipients that need diabetic supplies to manage their diabetes.[9]

Ambulance Service

AISH benefits will cover fees for ground ambulance service to the nearest hospital which can provide the medical treatment required.[9]

Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL)

AISH clients are exempt from paying their cost portion of items, subject to AADL approval.[9][10]

Subsidized Transit

Five cities and towns and one county in Alberta currently have subsidized transit options available to AISH recipients. All transit systems involved require that AISH clients verify their status as current AISH recipients, before he/she is given a subsidized monthly pass. The list below shows the current transit systems that have such options.

City/Town/County Price of Monthly Pass (Canadian dollars)
Airdrie –> {Transit website (click here)} variable[11]
Banff –> {Roam (Banff) Transit (click here)} Free[12]
Calgary –> {Transit website (click here)} $44[13]
Edmonton –> {Transit website (click here)} $35[14]
St. Albert –> {Transit website (click here)} $39.15[15]
Strathcona County –> {Transit website (click here)} $23[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Government increases AISH benefit by $400 per month".  
  2. ^ a b "ASSURED INCOME FOR THE SEVERELY HANDICAPPED ACT". Government of Alberta. Retrieved 2012-02-29. 
  4. ^ "Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped General Regulation, Alta Reg 91/2007". Alberta Queen's printer via CanLII. Retrieved 2012-05-06. 
  5. ^ Severely normal' people don't want to talk about AISH: Klein"'".  
  6. ^ "Living in a Facility". Government of Alberta. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  7. ^ "AISH Employment Income". Government of Alberta. April 1, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  8. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions (Health Benefits)". Government of Alberta. Retrieved 2012-02-10. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Health Benefits Tip Sheet". Government of Alberta. Retrieved 2012-02-10. 
  10. ^ "Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL)". Government of Alberta. Retrieved 2012-02-10. 
  11. ^ "Airdrie Transit Fare Subsidy".  
  12. ^ "Roam Transit Bus Pass".  
  13. ^ "Low-Income Monthly Transit Pass".  
  14. ^ "Fares and Passes".  
  15. ^ "AISH Transit Pass".  
  16. ^ "Tickets, Passes & Fares".  

External links

  • Alberta Government information on AISH
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