Shane Simpson, B.C. minister of social development and poverty reduction (B.C. government)

Shane Simpson, B.C. minister of social development and poverty reduction (B.C. government)

B.C. adding $300 to monthly income and disability assistance payments

‘Crisis supplement’ for COVID-19 for April, May and June

People who receive income assistance and disability assistance payments in B.C. and don’t qualify for federal emergency aid will receive an additional $300 for the next three months, starting with cheques being issued April 22.

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson announced April 2 that the additional assistance will not require an application for people who receive the payments and are not eligible for emergency federal support programs.

The B.C. “COVID-19 crisis supplement” also applies to low-income seniors who receive the B.C. Seniors Supplement or a comfort allowance for those in special care. That payment, which has been $49 a month for about 250,000 people, will increase to $300 for April, May and June, Simpson said.

For those eligible for Employment Insurance benefits, including Ottawa’s new $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit, those payments will be exempt from income assistance guidelines for April, May and June. The current earning exemption for people on disability assistance is $12,000 per year, scheduled to increase to $15,000 as of January 2021.

“What this means is that for a number of British Columbians who are on income or disability assistance, they have an earning exemption,” Simpson said.

RELATED: Ottawa urges ‘stay at home’ as costs of financial aid rise

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With the current suspension of BC Transit and TransLink bus fares, those who receive the $52 transit supplement under the B.C. bus pass program will have it added to monthly payments for the duration of the fare suspension. That amount will also be included on assistance cheques.

“Existing Compass passes under the B.C. bus pass program will not be cancelled and will remain active during this time, so people will not need to reapply for bus passes in the future,” the ministry said in a statement.

Simpson urged income assistance recipients to avoid coming into social development ministry offices if possible. Online information and assistance applications are available at myselfserve.gov.bc.ca and help with applications can be reached at a toll-free number 1-866-866-0800.

More information on the B.C. program is available here.

For the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, applications are to open April 6. The federal application website is here.


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tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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