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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.
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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:
Income assistance is administered by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.
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If you receive income assistance payments, you must adhere to two conditions to remain in the 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:
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As of January 1, 2021, the earnings exemption for income assistance recipients is:
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.
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For a complete list of general and health supplements, visit the Government of British Columbia website and view the income assistance page.
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Income assistance payments are issued each month. Below is the schedule for 2022 payments.
|Payment Date||Period Covered|
|December 15, 2021||January 2022|
|January 19, 2022||February 2022|
|February 16, 2022||March 2022|
|March 23, 2022||April 2022|
|April 27, 2022||May 2022|
|May 25, 2022||June 2022|
|June 22, 2022||July 2022|
|July 20, 2022||August 2022|
|August 24, 2022||September 2022|
|September 21, 2022||October 2022|
|October 26, 2022||November 2022|
|November 23, 2022||December 2022|
|December 21, 2022||January 2023|
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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