Social Assistance In British Columbia

Social Assistance In British Columbia

Written by Mark Gregorski
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated December 22, 2022

Social assistance programs have played a critical role in alleviating poverty in Canada since the Second World War. After the economic hardship faced by Canadians during the Great Depression, it was apparent that personal and financial aid provided by churches and charities was insufficient to meet peoples’ needs – additional support was required.

Today, both the federal government and provincial governments provide various social assistance programs designed to help people who are struggling financially. Most of these programs offer financial aid to help individuals pay for the essentials, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care. 

Check out these tax tips for low income earners.

Does British Columbia Have A Social Assistance Program?

British Columbia runs various social assistance programs, one of which is income assistance. The purpose of income assistance is to provide financial relief to individuals who face difficulty paying for their basic needs. You may be eligible for income assistance if:

  • You’re currently not working. 
  • You’re not able to work.
  • You’re not earning enough to pay for basic living expenses.
  • You’re in need of food, shelter, medical services, or other necessities but have no means of paying for them.

Income assistance is administered by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

Need assistance paying off your student debt? Check these student repayment assistance programs.

Conditions Of The BC Social Assistance Program

If you receive income assistance payments, you must adhere to two conditions to remain in the program:

  1. Complete an employment plan: If you’re able to work, you must show that you’re actively working to secure employment adequate to support yourself. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to abstain from searching for work while receiving income assistance payments. To be exempt from this requirement, you must present your case to the ministry and explain why you’re not in a position to seek employment.
  1. Submit a monthly report: The monthly report, also known as the “cheque stub,” is due by the fifth of each month. This report is a legal document that verifies that you’re still in need of income assistance. The ministry will examine your report’s details to determine if you’re still eligible for income assistance payments. You can complete the report online through your My Self Serve account or using a paper copy, which you can submit to a nearby ministry office or your local Service BC office.

How Much Can You Receive Through The BC Social Assistance Program?

The amount you can expect to receive in income assistance is based on your current circumstance and the number of members in your family. Using the May 2021 income assistance payment as an example, you could receive:

  • $935.00 if you’re single.
  • $1,525 if both you and your spouse are on income assistance and have no children.
  • $1,280 if you’re single and have one child.
  • $1,720 if both you and your spouse are on income assistance and have one child.
  • Medical services coverage
  • Pharmacare prescription coverage

Do you have a disability? Find out if you qualify for the disability tax credit.

As of January 1, 2021, the earnings exemption for income assistance recipients is:

  • $500.00 for single individuals or couples without children
  • $750.00 for families with children
  • $900.00 for families who have a child with a disability.
  • $900.00 for single individuals or families where at least one adult falls under the Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers category.

In addition to the monthly base amount, you may qualify for additional funds to cover other expenses. These supplementary benefits are classified under two categories: general and health. Each benefit under both categories has its unique eligibility criteria. You’ll have to contact the ministry to find out if you qualify.

Do you have children? Check out these tax benefits for parents.

General Supplements Include:

  • Bus pass – a discounted bus pass, available to low-income seniors and those designated as Persons with Disabilities.
  • Clothing – if you live in a special care facility, you may receive extra money to purchase clothing.
  • Crisis supplement – this is an extra payment intended to help with unexpected emergencies requiring an immediate cash outlay.
  • Moving, transportation, and living costs – you may be eligible to receive money to cover transportation costs incurred for important reasons, such as starting a new job or attending a court hearing.
  • School start-up – you may get extra funds to cover school supplies for your children.
  • Security deposit – if you rent your living space, you may receive funds to help pay for the security deposit. You’re required to repay this benefit.

Need extra cash? Check out if you qualify for the gst/hst tax credit.

Health Supplements Include:

  • Dental – this benefit helps to pay for basic dental coverage.
  • Extended medical therapies – you may be eligible to receive extra money to help pay for such services as acupuncture, massage therapy, podiatry, and physical therapy.
  • Hearing instruments – this extra payment help covers hearing instruments’ cost and any associated supplies and repairs.
  • Natal supplement – if you’re pregnant or have a child less than seven months old, you may qualify for an additional $45 per month.
  • Nutritional supplement – this benefit provides additional money for up to three months to cover the cost of dietary supplements essential to help you recover from surgeries, diseases, and medical treatment.

For a complete list of general and health supplements, visit the Government of British Columbia website and view the income assistance page.

Looking for ways to make extra cash? Learn how to get free money in Canada.

British Columbia Income Assistance Payment Dates 2023

Income assistance payments are issued each month. Below is the schedule for 2023 payments.

Payment DatePeriod Covered
January 18, 2023February 2023
February 15, 2023March 2023
March 22, 2023April 2023
April 19, 2023May 2023
May 17, 2023June 2023
June 21, 2023July 2023
July 19, 2023August 2023
August 23, 2023September 2023
September 20, 2023October 2023
October 25, 2023November 2023
November 22, 2023December 2023
December 20, 2023January 2023

Are You Eligible For The Social Assistance Program In BC?

To become eligible for income assistance, you must meet a series of criteria. Below are some of the main factors the ministry assesses when evaluating your eligibility:

Pursuing Income Or Other Means Of Support

You must be able to show that you’ve made reasonable attempts to acquire income through other means. Possible income sources include Canada Pension Plan, Student Financial Assistance, and WorkSafe BC. Cash in bank accounts and any assets that can be converted into cash are also considered – you must show that you’ve exhausted these resources as well.

If you refuse to pursue other income sources accessible to you, you may fail to qualify for income assistance.

Work Search And Participating In An Employment Program

Suppose you’re currently unemployed but are capable of working. In that case, you must pursue employment-related opportunities and put in the effort to obtain a suitable job. Failing to search for work could jeopardize your eligibility for income assistance.

Disability Assistance

To qualify for disability assistance, you must prove that you require financial aid and have a physical or mental disability that prevents you from performing basic, day-to-day activities. You must also meet the ministry’s criteria for the Persons with Disabilities designation.

How To Apply For BC Social Assistance Program

The most efficient way to apply for income assistance is online by using a My Self Serve account. My Self Serve is an online account where you can view personal messages and submit necessary reports and documents. You can also complete the application process by calling 1-866-866-0800 or visiting your local ministry office or Service BC center.

You’ll need to supply various personal details as part of the application process, such as: 

Final Thoughts

British Columbia’s income assistance program is a valuable financial resource for those who lack an income or earn an income too low to cover basic living costs. While other government-benefit programs can offer financial aid during difficult times, such as EI, these tend to provide only temporary aid. With income assistance, you get the benefit of regular monthly payments for an extended period, allowing you to improve your present situation gradually, without the stress of running out of money. You may also qualify for a wide range of supplementary benefits, making income assistance one of the province’s most versatile social assistance programs. By using it wisely, you can work effectively toward becoming self-sufficient.

Rating of 4/5 based on 5 votes.

Mark is a writer who specializes in writing content for companies in the financial services industry. He has written articles about personal finance, mortgages, and real estate and is passionate about educating people on how to make smart financial decisions. Mark graduated from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology with a degree in finance and has more than ten years' experience as an accountant. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing poker, going to the gym, composing music, and learning about digital marketing.

Click on the star to rate it!

How useful was this post?

Research & Compare

Canada's Loan Comparison Platform

Largest Lender Network In Canada

Save time and money with Loans Canada. Research and compare lenders before you apply. Share your experiences with Canada's top lenders.

Save With Loans Canada

Special Offers

Up to $1,500 Cash Back

Up to $1,500 Cash Back
Mortgage offer

Frank Mortgage is Canada’s one-stop shop for mortgages. Get up to $1,500 cash back on your mortgage.

View Offer
Improve Your Credit With Fidem

Improve Your Credit With Fidem

Great unsecured credit card for customers currently in, or recently discharged from, a consumer proposal or bankruptcy

View Offer
Earn 5% Cashback With Neo

Earn 5% Cashback With Neo
No annual fee!

Earn an average 5%¹ cashback at thousands of partners and at least 0.5%² cashback guaranteed with Neo.

View Offer
Build Credit For $10/Month

Build Credit For $10/Month

KOHO’s Credit Building Program helps you build a better credit history with easy to manage payments for just $10/month.

View Offer
Best Personal Loan Provider by Greedy Rates

Confidential & risk-free

All consultations and conversations with Loans Canada and its partners are confidential and risk-free. Speak with a trusted specialist today and see how we can help you achieve your financial goals faster. Loans Canada and its partners will never ask you for an upfront fee, deposit or insurance payments on a loan. Loans Canada is not a mortgage broker and does not arrange mortgage loans or any other type of financial service.

When you apply for a Loans Canada service, our website simply refers your request to qualified third party providers who can assist you with your search. Loans Canada may receive compensation from the offers shown on its website.

Only provide your information to trusted sources and be aware of online phishing scams and the risks associated with them, including identity theft and financial loss. Nothing on this website constitutes professional and/or financial advice.

Your data is protected and your connection is encrypted.

Loans Canada Services Are 100% Free. Disclaimer

Build Credit For Just $10/Month

With KOHO's prepaid card you can build a better credit score for just $10/month.