CEO of Community Service Centre named to income assistance advisory group

CEO Bill Powalinsky holds the proclamation, signed by Mayor Greg Dionne, for International Day of Persons with Disabilities. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

The province is taking a look at its income assistance programs and services and a leader of a local non-profit has been named to the group.

The province announced the members of its new income assistance advisory group Wednesday, and Bill Powalinsky, the CEO of the Prince Albert Community Service Centre made the list.

Other members include the past president of the board of directors for SaskAbilities, the CEO of the Regina YMCA and two self-advocates with lived experiences of disability.

“Having a group of citizens and stakeholders provide feedback and guidance to us on all income assistance programs will be invaluable,” social services minister Paul Merriman said in a press release.

“I want to thank the members for the guidance and support they will provide in the days, weeks and years to come.”

The group will be asked to advise on topics such as how social services programs and services can be made more client-friendly, how to build on the work of the Program Implementation Advisory Team to ensure that people with disabilities continue to receive good quality services and better alignment of ministry and communities services for clients and beneficiaries.

The group will provide advice and feedback on the development of income assistance policies, programs and services to best meet the needs of vulnerable people in the province.

Powalinsky said he was “quite honoured” to be chosen.

“I think what initially appealed to me and still appeals to me is that throughout most of my working life I’ve been involved in human services — in private industry, government and non-profit organizations,” he said. “A large part of working in the human services field is dealing with social safety nets. In Saskatchewan, our income support system is a very vital and necessary social safety net for a lot of our citizens.”

Powalinsky said he will be able to draw on both his personal and professional backgrounds n the role.

“I have a twin sister who has grown up with a significant, profound disability, he said.

“As such, you get first-hand how important these safety nets are for people. From my daily contact with people in our program, with the staff, with family and friends, I think I’ve got a great resource to draw on in terms of experience and information. I’m not currently involved with any other advocacy issue related to income support, so this seemed like a really worthwhile role to pursue.”

Powalinsky said he’s looking forward to meeting the other members of the committee. He added that it’s his personal view that analyzing what’s working and what isn’t is a part of the ongoing growth and renewal quality organizations do regularly.

“I really think it’s important for the province to engage in this type of review,” he said.