Welfare Rates and Payment Issues (21:VIII)
A. Income Assistance, PPMB Assistance, and Disability Assistance Rates
People who are eligible for income assistance, PPMB assistance, or disability assistance are entitled to the amounts determined in Schedule A of the EAR or EAPWDR, minus any non-exempt net income available to the family as determined under Schedule B.
All rates are monthly and set out in Schedule A of the EAR and EAPWDR. The rates are divided into a portion for shelter, and a separate portion for support (which is intended to cover all living expenses other than shelter, including food, clothing, etc.). The shelter portion is listed as a maximum. MSDSI will only pay the lesser of a person’s actual shelter costs or the maximum listed shelter allowance. Below are examples of monthly rates for different family configurations:
- For a single person under age 65 on income assistance: $235.00 for support plus up to $375.00 for shelter, for a total of $610.00 per month.
- For a single person under 65 on PPMB assistance: $282.92 for support plus up to $375.00 for shelter, for a total of $657.92 per month.
- For a four-person family (two parents, both under age 65, and two children) on income assistance: $401.06 for support plus $700.00 for shelter, for a total of $1 101.06 per month.
- For a couple under age 65 where one person has Persons with Disabilities status: $700.56 for support and $570 for shelter, for a total of $1 270.56 per month.
NOTE: MSDSI has announced that the disability assistance support rate will be increased by $25 per month for a single person on September 1, 2016. At the time of writing this chapter, the increase for couples and families with children on disability assistance had not been announced.
MSDSI has also announced that as of September 1, 2016, a $52/month transportation subsidy will be given to all recipients of disability assistance. With this change, the former “special transportation subsidy” that some recipients of disability assistance received, is being eliminated. The recipient of the new $52/month transportation subsidy then has the option each month to:
purchase a monthly bus pass for $52 through MSDSI. If the person wants to do this, they must contact MSDSI by the 5th of the month prior to the month they want the bus pass.)
keep the $52 in a given month and spend it on their transportation or other needs.
NOTE: Helpful rate tables are online at http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/bc-employment-and-assistance-rate-tables. These show the shelter support rates for all forms of assistance under the EAA and EAPWDA.
In addition to the support allowance, families may also receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit for children under 18 and the Universal Child Care Benefit for children under 6. A Canada Child Tax Benefit cheque usually includes the national child benefit supplement. If a family does not receive the maximum rate of the national child benefit supplement (see table below) for each child aged two months to 18 years, (e.g. because a child is ineligible or a check is delayed), see EAR, Schedule A, s 2(2), then MSDSI may issue a top up to that amount, as per the chart below:
|Number of Children||Maximum national child benefit supplement (and Top-Up Supplement if eligible)|
|One||$185.08 per month|
|Two||$348.74 per month|
|Three||$504.51 per month|
|Each additional child beyond three||$155.77 per child, per month|
B. Calculating the Shelter Allowance
Recipients of income assistance, PPMB assistance, and disability assistance are eligible for a monthly shelter allowance equivalent to their actual shelter costs, up to the maximum set out in the Regulations for their household size:
|Family Unit Size||Monthly Shelter Rate (Max.)|
Recipients are not eligible for the full monthly shelter allowance if they are not paying that much in shelter costs. Schedule A, s 5 of the EAR and EAPWDR set out what expenses items can be included when calculating shelter costs. They are: rent, mortgage payments, house insurance premiums, property taxes for the recipient’s own home, utility costs, and the actual cost of maintenance and repairs for the recipient’s own home if these costs have been approved. Note that the definition of “utility costs” in Schedule A, s 5(1) of the EAR and EAPWDR is quite broad.
Where two or more family units share the same place of residence, the family units’ shelter costs are calculated according to s 5(4) of Schedule A of the EAR and EAPWDR.
C. Rates for People Receiving Room and Board
Schedule A, s 6 of the EAR and EAPWDR set out the method for calculating the income assistance and disability assistance rates for a family unit receiving room and board.
If recipients receive room and board from a parent or child, only the support allowance that is payable to that family unit size shall be paid.
MSDSI has announced that the support rate will also be increased as of September 1, 2016 for people with the PWD designation who receive room and board. The announcement is that they will receive a $25 support rate increase and have the choice between buying a bus pass from MSDSI each month or receiving a $52 transportation allowance each month.
D. Rates for People Living in Emergency Shelters and Transition Houses
Schedule A, s 9 of EAR and EAPWDR provide for the level of assistance for a family unit is receiving accommodation and care in an emergency shelter or transition house.
E. Rates for “Transients”
Schedule A, s 10 of the EAR sets out the amount of income assistance available to a person that falls under the legislative definition of “transient” (in s 1 of the EAR). The EAPWD legislation does not have a definition of “transient” nor rules that apply to “transients.”
F. Rates for People in a Special Care Facility
“Special care facility” is defined in s 1 of each regulation as a specialized adult residential care setting approved by MSDSI or a licensed boarding home, alcohol or drug treatment centre, a personal care facility, or intermediate care facility.
Schedule A, s 8 of EAR and the EAPWDR sets out what MSDSI will cover for shelter and support for a person residing at such a facility.
G. Children in the Home of a Relative (CIHR) - repealed
Until 31 March 2010 the EAA provided that if a child was supported in the home of a relative other than the child’s parent and no parent of the child was able to pay the total cost of the child’s care, MSDSI would pay income assistance according to the child’s age:
|Age Group||Monthly Rate|
|Birth – 5 years||$257.46|
|6 – 9 years||$271.59|
|10 – 11 years||$314.31|
|12 – 13 years||$357.82|
|14 – 17 years||$402.70|
|(less any financial contribution by parents)|
The CIHR provisions were repealed as of 1 April 2010 (BC Reg 48/2010). However, these provisions still apply to families that include children who were approved under the old provision prior to 31 March 2010, or who filed their applications prior to 31 March 2010 and were subsequently approved under the old provision (see the Child in the Home of a Relative Transition Regulation). The following repealed sections contained key provisions dealing with Children in the Home of a Relative: EAR s 6; s 11(1)(b)(iv); s 27; s 29; s 33; s 34; s 34.1; 49; 50; 60; 61; 67; 67.1; 68; 71; 73; 74.01; 75; and Schedule A, s 11.
H. Method of Payment of Assistance
MSDSI’s standard method of payment is by direct deposit by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) into the recipient’s bank account.
Applicants can generally get an exemption where EFT payment is not appropriate for them. Such recipients typically receive their benefit cheque by picking it up from the MSDSI office.
MSDSI also commonly pays recipients’ shelter allowances directly to their landlords. This is optional.
I. Lost or Stolen Cheques
Section 92 of the EAR and s 77 of the EAPWDR authorize the issuance of a replacement of an unendorsed assistance cheque as long as:
- (a) in the case of theft, the matter has been reported to police; and
- (b) in the case of loss or theft, the recipient
- (i) makes a declaration of the facts; and
- (ii) undertakes to promptly deliver the lost or stolen cheque to MSDSI if it is recovered.