Welfare Eligibility (21:III)

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This section deals with eligibility for income assistance, PPMB assistance, and disability assistance, but not for hardship. Please see Section VI: Hardship for information on eligibility for hardship assistance.

A. Application Process

Applicants for income assistance, PPMB assistance, and disability assistance must comply with the application process set out in s 4 of the EAR and s 4 of the EAPWDR, and are subject to the numerous eligibility requirements set out below.

Applications may be filed online, by telephone, or in person. For more detail, see the LSS publication How to Apply for Welfare (at http://www.lss.bc.ca/publications/subject.php?sub=17 ).

  1. Online Application
    Online applications can be filled out at myselfserv.gov.bc.ca. Applicants must create a My Self Serve account, which requires an email address, Social Insurance Number (SIN), and information about the applicant’s spouse, including common law partners.
  2. Phone Application
    To make a phone application, applicants may call toll-free at 1-866-0800. After the initial call, a ministry worker will call back within three business days to fill out the application form with the applicant. Five business days after the phone application, the applicant must go to the ministry office or Service BC centre to sign the application form.
  3. In Person Application
    An applicant can go to their local ministry office to apply in person.
    If the applicant has access to a phone, a ministry worker will call within three business days to fill out the application form with the applicant. Five business days after the phone application, the applicant will need to go to the ministry office or Service BC Centre in person to sign the form.
    If the applicant does not have access to a phone the applicant may make an appointment to meet with a ministry worker in person. At the appointment the ministry worker will fill out the application form with the applicant.

B. Obligation to Provide Information to the Ministry

Ministry staff are empowered (by s 10 of the EAA and s 10 of the EAPWDA) to require welfare applicants and recipients to demonstrate their eligibility by providing relevant information. Ministry employees are also empowered to independently verify that information.

At the same time, welfare recipients are obliged to respond to enquiries by the Ministry, submit reports to the Ministry as requested, and alert the Ministry to any changes in their circumstances that may affect their eligibility (s 11 of EAA and s 11 of EAPWDA). Section 33(1) of the EAR requires that by the fifth day of each calendar month a recipient of income assistance or PPMB assistance must submit a report (in a prescribed form) giving relevant information about eligibility. Meanwhile, s 29 of the EAPWDR requires that those on disability assistance submit the form only when there is a change in their circumstances that may affect their eligibility for benefits (e.g. change in their assets, income, or family situation).

If an applicant fails to comply with the Ministry’s requirements to provide accurate information on factors affecting eligibility, this may result in the suspension or reduction of benefits.

Note that a “trusted third party” must witness many Ministry forms. This can be a welfare worker (EAW) or other Ministry staff. If an applicant cannot get to a Ministry office in person, the Ministry may accept a signature from another government worker or a prescribed professional (doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, social worker, psychologist, chiropractor, or physical/occupational therapist).

To be eligible for income assistance, PPMB assistance, or disability assistance, applicants must show that they meet the:

  • asset limits;
  • income limits;
  • citizenship requirements; and
  • age requirements.

To be eligible, applicants must also:

  • Pursue all other forms of support;
  • Assign any spousal support rights to the Ministry (effective May 1, 2015, the assignment of child support rights to the Minsitry is voluntary).
  • Have been financially independent for two years in the past (with some exceptions as discussed below);
  • Complete a three or five-week work search (with some exceptions as discussed below); and
  • Comply with employment-related obligations and an employment plan (with some exceptions, discussed below).

Those wishing to receive disability assistance or PPMB assistance must first show they qualify for PPMB or PWD status under the relevant sections of the legislation (s 2 of the EAA for PPMB status, and s 2 of the EAPWDA for PWD status).

The above eligibility criteria will be discussed briefly below. Certain applicants who do not meet the eligibility criteria for income assistance, PPMB assistance, or disability assistance may still be eligible for hardship assistance. See Part 4 of EAR and Part 4 of EAPWDR for details.

C. Asset Limits

In order to be eligible for income assistance, PPMB assistance, or disability assistance, applicants must exhaust their assets. As noted above, welfare is a “payer of last resort”. Accordingly, the EAR (ss 11-13) and the EAPWDR (ss 10-12) set out limits on which assets a person can possess and still remain eligible for income assistance, PPMB assistance, or disability assistance.

Asset limits vary depending on the size of the family unit receiving welfare and the type of welfare the family unit is receiving.

Read the EAR (ss 1 and 11-13) and the EAPWDR (ss 1 and 10-12) carefully to identify the asset criteria. Note in particular the definitions of “asset”, which is set out in s 1 of the EAR and EAPWDR.

The following table summarizes the asset limits for different family sizes applying for or receiving different forms of welfare. A more detailed table 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/assets-rate-table.

Applicant Maximum Allowable Assets
Single person on income assistance or PPMB $2 000
Family (more than one person) on income assistance or PPMB $4 000
Family unit that includes one person on, or applying for, disability assistance (this includes single people) $100 000
Family unit that includes two people on, or applying for, disability assistance $200 000

1. Exempt Assets

Sections 11(1) of EAR and s 10(1) of EAPWDR should be reviewed in detail to see if any of a person’s particular assets are exempt, i.e. do not count toward their asset limit. Some key exempt assets are:

  • Clothing and necessary household equipment
  • One vehicle per household and only if used for day-to-day transportation needs
    • A person who is applying for or receiving disability assistance can have a vehicle with any amount of equity in it as an exempt asset.
    • A person who is applying for or receiving income assistance or PPMB assistance can have a vehicle with up to $10 000 equity in it as an exempt asset. This limit does not apply where the vehicle has been significantly adapted to accommodate the disability of a recipient, or where the vehicle is used to transport a disabled child in the care of a recipient.
  • A family unit's place of residence
  • A child tax benefit or GST credit under the Income Tax Act (Canada)
  • A BC early childhood tax benefit
  • A sales tax credit under the Income Tax Act (British Columbia)
  • A registered disability savings plan or “RDSP” (see http://www.rdsp.com for more information)
  • An uncashed life insurance policy with a cash surrender value of $1 500 or less;
  • Business tools

2. Asset Development Accounts are Exempt Assets

Section 12 of the EAR and s 11 of the EAPWDR provide that the Ministry may approve savings accounts for the purpose of “future self-sufficiency”, and that these accounts will be exempt assets.

3. Disability Trusts are Exempt Assets

Under s 13 of the EAR and s 12 of the EAPWDR, assets of up to $200 000 can be held in a non-discretionary trust for a person with PWD status (or an applicant for PWD status, or for another individual with disabilities in certain circumstances) without disqualifying the person from income assistance or disability assistance. In certain circumstances, the Ministry can authorize a non-discretionary trust to hold more than $200 000. There is no limit on the amount that may be held in a discretionary trust.

D. Income Limits

In order to be eligible for income assistance, PPMB assistance, or disability assistance, applicants must exhaust all other sources of income to support themselves and their dependants, except for income specifically exempted by legislation or policy.

The net income limits for welfare recipients are set out in s 10 of the EAR and s 9 of the EAPWDR. Schedule B in both regulations sets out the manner in which a person’s net income is calculated for the purpose of welfare eligibility.

1. Types of Income Relevant to Income Limits

The Ministry distinguishes between earned and unearned income for the purpose of the net income calculation.

EARNED INCOME. EAR, s 1 and EAPWDR, s 1 define “earned income” as:

  • Any money or value received in exchange for work or the provision of a service
  • Pension plan contributions that are refunded because of insufficient contribution to create a pension
  • Money or value received from providing room and board at a person’s place of residence
  • Money or value received from renting rooms that are common to and part of a person’s place of residence

UNEARNED INCOME. EAR, s 1 and EAPWDR, s 1 define “unearned income” as any income that is not earned income. They give a non-exhaustive list of examples including:

  • Any type of CPP benefits
  • WCB benefits and other disability payments and pensions
  • Inheritances
  • Rental income from land or property
  • Education or training allowances, grants, loans, bursaries, and scholarships
  • Winnings from lotteries and other forms of gambling
  • Criminal injury compensation or crime victim compensation
  • “Any other financial awards or compensation”
  • Funds received from a sponsor under a sponsorship agreement pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

2. Deductions and Exemptions from Income

Earned and unearned income is deducted dollar-for-dollar from a recipient’s monthly cheque, subject to a list of deductions and exemptions set out in ss 1-9 of Schedule B of EAR and in ss 1-9 of Schedule B of EAPWDR. These sections should be carefully reviewed to determine if the applicant’s income is exempt or subject to deductions.

Money withdrawn from a disability trust for certain purposes is also exempt as income. See s 13 of the EAR, and s 12 of the EAPWDR. Also see s 7(1)(d) of Schedule B to the EAR and the EAPWDR.

Money from structured settlement annuity payments that is used for certain purposes is also exempt as income. See Schedule B, s 7 of the EAR and EAPWDR for details.

The following are some examples of income exempted by Schedule B of the EAR and EAPWDR. This list is far from exhaustive. Note that an applicant or recipient of welfare benefits must report their receipt of all income to the Ministry, even if it is exempt.

  • Income tax refunds
  • Universal child care benefits
  • Canada child tax benefits
  • Withdrawals from a Registered Disability Savings Plan
  • Child support payments (as of Sept 1, 2015; before Sept 1 2015, payments were considered unearned income and deducted dollar-for-dollar)
  • CPP orphan’s benefit (as of Sept 1, 2015)
  • A one-time gift, if it does not make the recipient exceed their asset exemption level
  • Some portion of WCB Temporary Wage Loss Replacement Payments issued under ss 29 and 30 of the Workers Compensation Act, if:
    • at least one person in the family unit is has the PWD designation, and either
      • the family unit has received PWD benefits for at least one month or
      • the family unit has received PWD benefits in the past.
  • EI maternity and parental benefits, and EI benefits for caring for a critically ill child (as of October 1, 2016). Before October 1, 2016, such payments were considered unearned income and deducted dollar for dollar.

See ss 1-9 of Schedule B of the EAR and ss 1-9 of Schedule B of EAPWDR for a complete list of income exemptions.

3. Earnings Exemptions

Recipients of income assistance, PPMB assistance, and disability assistance all have an earnings exemption. The earnings exemption for income assistance and PPMB assistance is monthly; as of January 1, 2015, the earnings exemption for recipients of disability assistance is calculated per year (i.e. annual earnings exemption). The exemptions apply to all earned income, including wages from employment, money received from providing room, and board at a person’s place of residence, or money received from renting rooms that are common to the person’s place of residence.

For recipients of income assistance and PPMB assistance, there is a one month waiting period to claim any earnings exemption. This means that a family unit cannot claim an earnings exemption for the first month in which they become eligible for income assistance or PPMB assistance, but can claim an earnings exemption for any subsequent months.

For recipients of disability assistance, there is a one-month waiting period to claim an earnings exemption unless:

  • A member of the family unit has received disability benefits at any point in the past OR
  • A member of the family unit received income assistance or PPMB assistance in the month before the family unit became eligible for disability assistance.

Current earnings exemptions are as follows:

  • Family units, without children, receiving income assistance: $200/month
  • Family units receiving income assistance who have a dependant child or are caring for a supported child: $400/month (up from $200 as of September 1, 2015)
    • Exception: a single parent of a child or foster child who has a disability that prevents the parent from working more than 30 hours per week has an earnings exemption of $500/month while receiving income assistance (up from $300/month as of September 1, 2015)
  • Family unit receiving PPMB assistance: $500/month
  • Family unit receiving disability assistance:
    • $9600 per calendar year for a single adult (or single parent) with the PWD designation;
    • $12 000 for a family unit with two adults where one adult has the PWD designation, and the other adult does not.
    • $19,200 per calendar year for families where two adults have the PWD designation.

If a child is under 19 and in school full-time, a family unit can still keep the entirety of that child’s income without it affecting their benefits (although the child’s income must still be reported to the Ministry). If a child is under 19 and not in school full time, then any income the child earns counts toward the family unit’s earnings exemption.

For more information on earnings exemptions, see EAPWDR schedule B, s 3, and EAR, schedule B, s 3.

It is very important to note that all earned income must be reported to the Ministry, even if it is below a person’s earnings exemption.

E. Citizenship Requirements

Under s 7 of the EAR and s 6 of the EAPWDR, at least one person in a family unit that is applying for or receiving income assistance, PPMB assistance, or disability assistance must be a:

  • Canadian citizen;
  • Permanent Resident;
  • Convention refugee;
  • Person on a Temporary Resident Permit;
  • Refugee claimant; OR
  • Person under a removal order that cannot be executed.

The only exception to these citizenship requirements is that some parents without status who have been abused, may be eligible for temporary assistance (see below).

Where an applicant for, or recipient of, income assistance, PPMB assistance, or disability assistance meets the citizenship requirements but an adult dependant of the applicant does not, assistance and supplements may be issued for the other members of the person’s family unit, but not for the adult dependant who does not meet the citizenship requirements. However, the assets and income of the person who does not meet the citizenship requirements will be included when determining the household’s income and assets.

1. Single parents without status who have been abused

A single parent who does not meet the requirements for citizenship, permanent residency, refugee status, or temporary residence might be eligible for welfare on a temporary basis if he or she has:

  • a dependent child who is a Canadian citizen; AND
  • left an abusive spouse; AND
  • applied for status as a permanent resident; AND
  • cannot leave BC because of ONE of the following:
    • another person who lives in BC has parenting (also called custody and access) or contact (visitation) rights with at least one of the person’s dependent children through a court order, agreement, or other arrangement, AND leaving BC with his or her children would go against the court order; OR
    • another person who lives in BC is claiming parenting or contact rights regarding the child or children; OR
    • The parent or child is being treated for a medical condition and leaving BC would be dangerous to that person’s physical health.

For more information, see s 7.1 of the EAR, and s 6.1 of the EAPWDR.

Note: The parent should also be excused from the work search and the past financial independence requirements.

F. Age Requirements

Generally, a person must be 19 years of age in order to apply independently for welfare, but there are some circumstances where those under 19 may (or must) apply for welfare. See s 5 of EAR and s 5 of EAPWDR. Minors under 19 who do not live with their parents or guardians have the right to apply for income assistance from the Ministry. To qualify, the Ministry has to be convinced that their parents will not support them.

1. Income Assistance for Children and Youth

Minors under 19 who do not live with their parents or guardians have the right to apply for income assistance from the Ministry. Before granting assistance to such a minor, the Ministry must make reasonable efforts to have the minor’s parents or guardians assume financial responsibility for the minor’s support. If the parents or guardians are unwilling to support the minor, the Ministry may grant the minor income assistance.

The Ministry will refer minors under 17 who apply for income assistance to a social worker with the Ministry of Child and Family Development before assistance is provided. The Ministry will refer minors between 17 and 19 to a social worker only if it considers there to be child protection issues.

Note that as of 1 April 2010, the Ministry will no longer pay Child in the Home of a Relative benefits to new applicants.


2. Disability Assistance for youth 18 and over

Disabled youths may be eligible for the PWD designation and disability assistance at the age of 18, even if they live with their parents. To qualify, a youth must have a severe mental or physical impairment that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, is likely to continue for at least two years. Additionally, this impairment must directly and significantly restrict the person’s ability to perform daily living activities either continuously or periodically for extended periods, in the opinion of a health professional. Finally, as a result of those restrictions, the person must require help to perform those activities (see s 2(2) of the EAPWDA. An application for PWD benefits can be started 6 months before the youth’s 18th birthday.

3. Welfare for Teenaged Parents Living at Home

If a child is under 19, has a dependent child, and lives with his or her own parent who is also on income assistance, PPMB assistance, or disability assistance, the Ministry may consider the two sets of parents as separate family units. This change would mean that both might both be entitled to a shelter allowance in addition to a support allowance. The Ministry’s decision will depend on the child’s age. For more information, see s 5 of the EAR.

Other options:

4. MCFD Youth agreements for 16 to 18-year-old youths

Youths aged 16 to 18 years who have left home and do not have a parent or other persons willing to take responsibility for him or her, or who cannot return home for reasons of safety, may be eligible for a Youth Agreement with the Ministry of Child and Family Development (“MCFD”). A Youth Agreement assists at-risk youth to live independently, return to school, and gain work experience or life skills. For more information on whether a person qualifies, contact the nearest MCFD office. Also see http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/public-safety/protecting-children/youth-agreements.

5. MCFD Extended Family Program

If a young person under 19 lives with extended family members or close friends, the caregiver may be eligible for benefits to care for the young person under MCFD’s Extended Family Program. The child’s parent(s) must live elsewhere, must request these benefits from MCFD, and must agree with the placement. Extended Family Program benefits are usually temporary. A caregiver who is also the child’s legal guardian is not eligible for Extended Family Program benefits. For more information, see: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/fostering/temporary-permanent-care-options/placement-with-a-person-other-than-the-parent

G. Obligation to Pursue Other Support and Not Dispose of Property

Applicants are eligible for all forms of welfare only after they take full advantage of every source of income, asset, or other means of support that is or might become available to them or to their dependants.

Applicants may become ineligible for assistance if they “dispose of property” for consideration that the Ministry thinks is inadequate. This means that a person cannot, for example, give away a valuable asset and then remain eligible for welfare. For details, see EAA, ss 13-14; EAR, ss 29 and 31; EAPWDA, ss12-13; and EAPWDR, ss 25 and 27.

If an applicant or his or her dependants fail to take advantage of other resources that they might use to support themselves, or if they dispose of assets for inadequate consideration, the Ministry can reduce the amount of assistance granted to the family unit or declare the family unit ineligible for a period set by the regulations (see EAR, ss 29 and 31; EAPWDR, ss 25 and 27). Some ineligible persons may be considered for hardship benefits if they agree to repay the amount they receive.

1. No Obligation to Assign Child Support Rights

Until May 1, 2015, applicants for and recipients of welfare were required to assign to the Ministry any rights they had to pursue or respond to legal proceedings involving maintenance for their dependent children (i.e. child support) and for themselves (i.e. spousal support). That requirement has been repealed. Currently, a person applying for or receiving welfare has the choice whether or not to assign their right to pursue child or spousal support to the Ministry. See section 20 of the EAR and section 17 of the EAPWDR.

a) Child support not considered income

As of September 1, 2015, the Ministry no longer considers child support payments received to be unearned income, and child support will not be deducted from welfare cheques.

If a client wants the Ministry to provide them with legal help in pursuing an order or agreement for child support (or possibly varying an old Court order or agreement), the client can contact the Ministry and ask to voluntarily assign their child support rights to the Ministry. The guidelines the ministry will apply in deciding whether to accept a voluntary assignment of child support rights are at http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/general-supplements-and-programs/family-maintenance-servicecs.

If a client already has a child support order or agreement enrolled for enforcement with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) as of May 1, 2015, the client can now choose to either:

  • continue to have the order enforced, or;
  • withdraw the order from FMEP;

If a client decides to withdraw an order or agreement from registration with FMEP, the client can still try to enforce the order themselves through the court (i.e. collect on child support payments or arrears) procedures set out in the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act, RSBC 1996, c 127.

b) Spousal Support still considered income

While an applicant for or recipient of welfare is no longer legally required to assign their right to pursue spousal support to the Ministry, any spousal support received is still considered unearned income and will be deducted dollar-for-dollar from all welfare benefits. If the Ministry considers that a person has a right to spousal support but the person does not pursue it (either independently or by assigning their spousal support right to the Ministry), the Ministry may reduce the amount of assistance granted to the person’s family unit or declare the family unit ineligible for a period set by the regulations (see EAR, ss 29 and 31; EAPWDR, ss 25 and 27).

If an applicant for or recipient of welfare is interested in assigning their spousal support rights to the Ministry so they can get legal help obtaining a court order or agreement for spousal support, the client can contact the Ministry and ask to voluntarily assign their right to spousal support. Where that person’s ex-partner is abusive toward them, it is important for the person to disclose this to the Ministry. Ministry policy provides discretion not to pursue spousal support under an assignment where doing so could put the applicant or recipient at risk. For more information, see the Ministry’s risk assessment policy at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/general-supplements-and-programs/family-maintenance-services

H. Two Years’ Past Financial Independence Requirement

The EAA, s 8 and the EAR, s 18 state that in order to be eligible for income assistance, applicants must show that they have been financially independent for two consecutive years at some point in the past. This usually involves showing they have:

  • Worked for 840 hours a year for two consecutive years
  • Earned at least $7 000 a year for two consecutive years
  • Worked for part of a two-year period, and collected Employment Insurance or another income replacement (excluding income assistance or a training allowance) for the rest of the two-year period

This requirement does not apply to applicants for PPMB assistance or disability assistance and there are numerous other exemptions including, among other things (EAR, s 18(3) and (4)):

  • People under 19
  • Pregnant women
  • People with dependent children
  • People who have recently left an abusive relationship and this has affected their ability to work
  • People who were supported by an employed spouse or supported by a combination of an employed spouse and other benefits for two years
  • People whose medical condition prevented them from working for at least six of the last 24 months or will prevent them from working for the next 30 days
  • People who have earned a two-year certificate or diploma, bachelor’s degree, or post-graduate degree
  • People who were in prison for at least 6 months of the past 2 years

The exemption also covers those who “were for any reason unable, due to circumstances beyond their control, to search for or accept employment, and will otherwise experience undue hardship”.

I. Five-Week Work Search

All new applicants, including persons with disabilities, must go through the application process set out in ss 4, 4.1 and 4.2 of the EAR and ss 4, 4.1 and 4.2 of the EAPWDR.

As of 1 October 2012, new applicants for assistance are required to do a 5-week work search (up from 3 weeks). Most returning applicants will be required to do a 3-week work search.

New applicants must (unless they are exempted as set out below) wait five weeks to apply for income assistance and during this five-week period they must attend an orientation session and complete a job search. Applicants can do the orientation session at a session organized by the Ministry, by phone or in person with Ministry staff, or online at https://www.iaselfserve.gov.bc.ca/HomePage.aspx The online orientation is only available in English.

An applicant must keep clear records to prove to the Ministry what they have done to look for work. The Ministry assesses the reasonableness of a job search on a case-by-case basis. Generally, a reasonable work search usually includes things like writing up a resume; looking for jobs on the Internet, by phone, and through personal contacts; submitting applications or resumés; going to job search workshops; going to employment agencies; asking for "job shadowing opportunities"; and going to job interviews.

Certain groups are exempt from the orientation and job search; see ss 4.1(4),(5), and (6) and s 4.2(5) of each Regulation (EAR and EAPWDR) for details.

NOTE: if a person can show that they have an immediate need for food, shelter, or urgent medical attention, they may qualify for (non-repayable) hardship assistance from the Ministry while they do their work search. A person in this situation should request an “immediate needs assessment” from the Ministry. The Ministry’s service standard is that a person requesting immediate needs assessment should have their situation assessed by the Ministry, and their immediate need met, within one business day. See the Ministry’s policy on immediate needs assessments at http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/application-and-intake/immediate-needs

An applicant does not have to do a work search (either three or five weeks) if they:

  • Are prohibited from working in Canada;
  • Are age 65 or over;
  • Have a physical or mental condition that precludes the person from completing a search for employment as directed by the minister;
  • Are fleeing an abusive spouse or relative; OR
  • Are the single parent of a child under three (this includes foster children and some children placed in their care by MCFD).

J. Ongoing Employment Obligations: Employment-related Obligations and Employment Plans

If the Ministry considers a recipient of welfare benefits to be employable, the person will have “employment-related obligations” under s 13 of the EAA and s 29 of the EAR. This means that they must actively look for work and accept any job offer that the Ministry considers “suitable” (appropriate). They must also not refuse suitable employment. For more information, see “Failure to meet employment-related obligations” under section III below.

Certain persons are exempted from having employment-related obligations; see EAR s 29(4) for details. For example, people with PPMB status or the PWD designation, single parents of children under 3, and people 65 and over do not have employment-related obligations. Recipients of assistance who have employment-related obligations must also have an Employment Plan (EP) under s 9 of the EAA. Even recipients with certain barriers to employment, such as drug and alcohol problems or other medical conditions, may be required to follow an EP. However, the EP is meant to be tailored to the abilities and skills of the recipient. EPs for recipients under the age of 19 focus on completing high school.

An EP outlines the conditions (activities and expectations) that the Ministry thinks a person must complete to become employed or more employable and includes a timeframe. The EP may include independent work search, referral to job placement programs, specific training for employment, or other services. Recipients must complete an activity report monthly while they are looking for work, and every second month once they obtain work, until they become independent of income assistance.

People with the PPMB and PWD designation are not required to have an employment plan. The Ministry may encourage them to sign a “voluntary participation plan”, however this is not mandatory. Having a voluntary participation plan may however be required to get access to certain training programs.

The Ministry has established various programs for employment, self-employment, and volunteering by people on income assistance, PPMB assistance, and disability assistance. These programs are optional if the person does not have employment related obligations.

K. Single Parent Employment Initiative

Effective September 1, 2015, the Ministry introduced a new “single parent employment initiative.” Under this initiative, if a single parent on income assistance, PPBM or disability assistance is assessed as needing training in order to gain employment in certain fields, they may be eligible for the Ministry to pay tuition of up to $7500 for their training, and to continue receiving income or disability assistance for up to 12 months while participating in an approved training program. Single parents may be eligible for additional child care and transportation supports while participating in the training program or paid work experience program. Single parents that are eligible for the child care subsidy may also have access to additional child care supports during their training period and their first year of their employment.

For more details on this program, see the Ministry’s Policy and Procedures Manual under “Single Parent Employment Initiative” at http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/eligibility/education-and-training

L. Persons With Disabilities (PWD)

To obtain disability assistance,) a person must show that he or she qualifies under the s 2(2) EAPWDA definition of “person with disabilities” (“PWD”). This section defines a “person with disabilities” as a person over 18 with a severe mental or physical impairment that:

  • in the opinion of a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner is likely to continue for at least two years; and
  • in the opinion of a prescribed professional (a doctor, psychologist, physical or occupational therapist, social worker, nurse, nurse practitioner, or chiropractor):
    • directly and significantly restricts the person’s ability to perform daily living activities either
      • continuously; or
      • periodically for extended periods; and
    • as a result of those restrictions, the person requires help to perform those activities.

People who wish to receive disability assistance must complete an extensive application form with the assistance of a doctor and another medical professional, and satisfy the Ministry that they meet the above definition.

"Requiring help" includes:

  • Help from an assistive device (like a wheelchair);
  • Significant help from another person; OR
  • Help from an assistance animal (such as a guide dog).
NOTE: In Hudson v. Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal, 2009 BCSC 1461, the BC Supreme Court made several important findings about the eligibility criteria for persons with disabilities designation under the EAPWDA. For a helpful summary of the findings in Hudson, the Community Legal Assistance Society has published at: summary.

1. Simplified PWD Application for Certain Applicants

As of September 1, 2016 certain applicants need only complete a simplified 2 page form to qualify as a PWD for the purposes of s 2(2) of the EAPWDA. Under the EAPWDR s 2.1, an applicant must be one of the following to qualify for the simplified form:

  • A person who is considered to be disabled under s 42 (2) of the Canadian Pension Plan (Canada) (that is, the person is receiving CPP disability benefits);
  • A persons enrolled in Plan P (Palliative Care) under the Drug Plans Regulation, BC Reg. 73/2015;
  • A person who has at any time been determined to be eligible for payments from the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s At Home Program;
  • A person who has at any time been determined by Community Living British Columbia to be eligible to receive community living support under the Community Living Authority Act;
  • A person whose family has at any time been determined by Community Living British Columbia to be eligible to receive community living support under the Community Living Authority Act.

M. Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB)

To obtain PPMB (Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers to employment) assistance, a person must qualify under s 2 of the EAR, which involves the application of an “employability screen” designed to determine whether the person faces challenges in securing and maintaining employment. A person will have to prove to the Ministry that they have done everything reasonable to try and overcome their problems, but that the problems themselves made it impossible for them to do so.

A person can only qualify for PPMB benefits if they have already received income assistance or hardship assistance for at least 12 out of the last 15 months.

Disability Alliance BC has a detailed help sheet for people applying for, or appealing, decisions about PPMB status, at http://disabilityalliancebc.org/category/publications/bc-disability-benefits-guides/.


© Copyright 2017, The Greater Vancouver Law Students' Legal Advice Society.


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