Hardship Assistance and Welfare (21:VI)

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on July 02, 2019.

Applicants who do not qualify for a regular monthly allowance under the EAA or EAPWDA might still qualify for hardship assistance. See s 5 of the EAA and Part 4 of the EAR, and s 6 of the EAPWDA and Part 4 of the EAPWDR. For example, applicants who do not meet citizenship requirements, who cannot provide a Social Insurance Number, who have excess income or assets, are on strike or locked out, or have been disqualified from assistance due to welfare fraud, may be eligible for hardship assistance. Someone who has applied for income from another source that is not yet available may also be entitled to hardship assistance.

Hardship assistance is provided only for the month in which it is applied for. Applicants who are still in need the following month must apply again. Hardship rates are different for people with and without PWD status. Schedule D of the EAR and of the EAPWDR lists the maximum rates of hardship assistance. Section 1 of Schedule D in each Regulation states that applicants in this category are not entitled to a specific amount of hardship assistance and that the actual amount is at the discretion of the Ministry, based on the financial need of the applicant. However, in practice, the Ministry usually grants eligible applicants the maximum hardship rate. A table showing maximum hardship rates is available at http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/bc-employment-and-assistance-rate-tables.

The minister may require that applicants for hardship assistance enter an agreement to repay any assistance received under s 5 of the EAA and s 6 of the EAPWDA. Only some categories of hardship assistance are repayable, as set out in Part 4 of the EAR and EAPWDR.

In order to qualify for hardship assistance, one must:

  • Be at least 19;
  • Live in BC;
  • Meet the citizenship requirements for income assistance; AND
  • Fall into at least ONE of the following categories:
    • A sponsor cannot or will not support them and they are waiting for the Ministry to make a decision about the application made for income assistance.
    • They are waiting for a Social Insurance Number or other identification documents.
    • They have applied for money from another source (e.g. Employment Insurance or Old Age Security), but they have not received it yet (this hardship assistance will have to be paid back).
    • They are on strike or locked out and they do not have money to support themselves (this hardship assistance will have to be paid back).
    • They have more income or assets than people applying for welfare are allowed to have, but they have a dependent child or children and cannot use the income or assets to support themselves or their family (this hardship assistance will have to be paid back).
    • The person has an immediate need for food, shelter or urgent medical attention and cannot complete the three or five week work search without hardship assistance (“immediate needs assessment”)

NOTE: If the Ministry declares that someone does not qualify for hardship assistance, this decision can be appealed.

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