Policy changes implemented to help break the cycle of poverty and build a better B.C. for vulnerable citizens will take effect July 1, 2019.
Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction clients will benefit from policy changes designed to further the goals of TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy. TogetherBC is a cross-ministry plan that outlines what government will do to help reduce the rate of poverty in the province by 25% and cut child poverty in half over the next five years.
Policy changes taking effect July 1 include:
- decreasing the work search from five weeks to three weeks;
- ending penalties for families providing room and board to a family member;
- expanding access to the identification supplement;
- expanding access and simplifying the application process for Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers programs;
- eliminating the “transient” client category;
- removing $10,000 asset limit on primary vehicle;
- increasing asset limits for people on income assistance; and
- expanding the moving supplement for people to move anywhere in B.C.
Additional changes will be made in the coming months to further improve ministry services and ensure that people are able to access the supports they need when trying to overcome social and economic barriers.
Addressing poverty is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Policy changes advance TogetherBC Poverty Reduction Strategy
On July 1, 2019, the following policy changes take effect to help build a better B.C. for vulnerable British Columbians, making life more affordable and supporting them to overcome social and economic barriers:
Reducing access times: The work-search period will be reduced from five weeks to three weeks, while returning applicants will continue to complete the three-week work search. These changes do not impact applicants who are already exempt from work search requirements.
Ending penalties for families providing room and board to a family member: Clients who pay room and board to a parent or child while on income assistance currently do not receive the same level of benefits as those in private room and board situations. Now, families will be allowed to receive up to the full room and board payments (i.e., support and shelter allowance) when providing room and board to an adult child or parent on assistance, without a financial penalty, similar to those living in a private room and board situation.
Expanding access to the ID supplement: The identification supplement is available to individuals, through hardship assistance, to ensure they can meet the ministry’s identification eligibility requirements when applying for assistance. The supplement is being extended to all income and disability assistance clients, in addition to hardship assistance clients, to ensure they can continue to meet ministry eligibility requirements and/or access other important services within British Columbia (e.g., BC Services Card, banking, community services and programs).
Expanding access and simplifying the application process for the persons with persistent multiple barriers (PPMB) category: Expanding access to the PPMB category by removing restrictions that required people first be on income assistance for 12 out of 15 months and prevented access for people with addictions. The application process has also been simplified for clients and staff.
Elimination of the “transient” category: Eliminating the “transient” category to ensure persons without a fixed address, no dependent children and who are not considered to be taking up permanent residence in the community, are eligible to receive the same supports as other people on income assistance.
Allowing people to keep their vehicles: The $10,000 asset exemption limit on a primary vehicle will be removed for people on income assistance, allowing all clients to keep their primary vehicle, regardless of value, without impact to their assistance.
Higher asset limits: Asset limits for people on income assistance will be increased from $2,000 to $5,000 for a single person and from $4,000 to $10,000 for couples and one or two parent families, allowing people on income assistance to keep more of their money and build their assets.
Making relocating easier: Expanding the moving supplement for moves anywhere in B.C. when clients are moving to lower-cost housing or are evicted for any reason (including lawful and unlawful evictions and the existing circumstances of rented accommodation being sold, demolished or condemned). The expanded supplement will also assist with storage costs, if necessary, to preserve the family’s personal belongings while they are moving. Clients will also be supported when they incur moving costs prior to receiving ministry approval in exceptional circumstances.
Expanding access to nutritional supplements: Registered dietitians, as well as medical doctors and nurse practitioners, will be able to submit documentation on behalf of their patients for all nutritional supplements, including all diet supplements (including the high-protein diet), the monthly nutritional supplement, short-term nutritional supplement, tube feed supplement and infant formula supplement.