Welfare and Health Supplements (21:X)

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on June 30, 2021.

A. Introduction[edit]

Schedule C of the EAR and EAPWDR set out the availability of supplements for health and dental services, including optical and orthodontic services. See also Part 5, Division 5 of the EAR and Part 5, Division 4 of the EAPWDR.

B. General Health Supplements[edit]

Section 67 of the EAR and s 62 of the EAPWDR set out the eligibility criteria for general health supplements. Applicants should review these criteria carefully in relation to any issue relating to a health supplement.

C. “Medical Services Only”[edit]

Section 66.3 of the EAR and s 61.1 of the EAPWDR provide that persons may be eligible for “medical services only” in certain circumstances when they cease to be eligible for income assistance, PPMB, or disability assistance for specific reasons.

D. Optical Care[edit]

If the person is between 19 and 64 and gets income assistance, hardship assistance, PPMB, or PWD benefits OR has Medical Services Only Status, they can receive an eye exam every 24 months. Further, children may receive one pair of glasses per year and adults may receive one pair of glasses every three years.

Sections 67.1 and 67.2 of the EAR and ss 62.1 and 62.2 of the EAPWDR set out eligibility criteria for certain optical benefits. See also ss 2.1 and 2.2 of Schedule C of the EAR and ss 2.1 and 2.2 of Schedule C of the EAPWDR.

E. Dental Care[edit]

Sections 68, 68.1, 69, 70, and 71 of the EAR and ss 63, 63.1, 63.2, 64, and 65 of the EAPWDR set out eligibility criteria for supplements for dental work, crown and bridgework, dentures, emergency dental and denture work, and limited orthodontic work. See also ss 4, 4.1, 5, 6, and 7 of Schedule C of the EAR and ss 4, 4.1, and 5 of Schedule C of the EAPWDR.

F. “Healthy Kids” supplements[edit]

Sections 72, 72.1, and 77.03 of the EAR provides for certain optical, dental, hearing instrument, and alternative hearing assistance supplements for dependent children of welfare recipients. See also Schedule C.

G. Alternative Hearing Supplement[edit]

Sections 77.02 of the EAR, section 70.02 of the EAPWDR, and section 11 of Schedule C to both the EAR and EAPWDR, allow a $100 supplement for applicants with profound hearing loss. The Ministry provides this supplement may only where the applicant has profound hearing loss in both ears and would not benefit from a hearing instrument.

H. Diet and nutrition[edit]

Sections 73, 74, 74.01, 74.1, and 75 of the EAR and ss 66, 67, 67.01, 67.1, and 68 of the EAPWDR set out eligibility criteria for supplements for diet supplements, nutritional supplements, supplements for those who require tube feeding, infant health supplements, and natal supplements for pregnant people. See also ss 8, 9, and 10 of Schedule C of the EAR and ss 6-9 of Schedule C of the EAPWDR.

Note: A “monthly nutritional supplement” of up to $205 per month may be available to some people with the PWD designation who receive disability assistance.. To qualify, there must be medical confirmation that the person requires the supplement for a "chronic, progressive deterioration of health on account of a severe medical condition". It can be very hard to meet the requirements for this supplement. See s 67(1.1) of the EAPDWR for more information. Disability Alliance BC has a useful help sheet regarding the monthly nutritional supplement, at http://disabilityalliancebc.org/category/publications/help-sheets/.

As of July 1, 2019, registered dieticians are added as health professionals who can confirm someone’s need for diet supplements, short term nutritional supplements, infant formula supplement, and the monthly nutritional supplement. Prior to this change, eligibility for most diet and nutrition related supplements could only be confirmed by medical practitioners or nurse practitioners. In order to be considered a “registered dietician,” a dietician must be a “registrant of the College of Dieticians of BC established under the Health Professions Act.”

Sources: EAR, ss 1(1), 73(2)(b), 74(b), 74.01(3)(a), Schedule C ss 8(2) and 10(a). See also EAPWDR, ss 1(1), 66(2)(b), 67(1.1), 67(2), 67.001(b), 67.01(3)(a), Schedule C ss 6(2) and 9(a).

I. Medical equipment and devices[edit]

Where a person meets eligibility criteria (see s 67 of the EAR and s 62 of the EAPWDR), the Ministry may provide funding for certain medical equipment and devices. Sections 3 through 3.12 of Schedule C of each regulation list the devices and eligibility criteria. The devices may include:

  • canes, crutches, and walkers;
  • wheelchairs;
  • scooters;
  • bathing and toileting aids;
  • hospital bed;
  • pressure relief mattresses;
  • floor or ceiling lift devices;
  • positive airway pressure devices;
  • apnea monitors;
  • nebulizers;
  • positioning items on a bed, positioning chairs, and standing frames;
  • ventilator supplies;
  • orthoses; and
  • hearing aids.

NOTE: In order to qualify for these supplements, a qualified medical practitioner must supply a prescription and the cost must be pre-approved by the Ministry. The Ministry provides very detailed eligibility criteria in Schedule C of both Regulations.

J. Medical and Surgical Supplies[edit]

Certain “disposable or reusable” medical supplies may be provided if they are necessary to prevent the recipient from becoming very ill (to avoid what the Ministry calls “an imminent and substantial danger”) and if a doctor prescribes them. See s 2(1)(a) of Schedule C of each Regulation.

The supplies are only available if an applicant needs them for one of these following purposes: wound care; ongoing bowel care required due to loss of muscle function; catheterization; incontinence; skin parasite care; or limb circulation care.

The supplies must be the least expensive ones appropriate for the purpose. Exclusions to this list include nutritional supplements, food, vitamins and minerals, and prescription medications

K. “Direct and Imminent Life-Threatening Health Need”[edit]

Section 76 of the EAR and s 69 of the EAPWDR provide that the Ministry may provide certain health supplements to a person who is otherwise ineligible for the supplements (or indeed, for welfare benefits), if the person can show that the person faces an imminent and life-threatening need that cannot be addressed except by the supplement. See the Regulations for details.

L. Alternative and Complementary Therapies[edit]

Up to 12 visits per calendar year are payable by the minister for any combination of physiotherapy services, chiropractic services, massage therapy services, non-surgical podiatry services, naturopathy services, and acupuncture services for which a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner has confirmed an acute need. See Schedule C, s 2 of each Regulation, especially s 2(c).

M. Transportation to Medical Appointments[edit]

Under Schedule C, s 2(f) of each Regulation, the Ministry may cover the cost for the least expensive mode of transportation to and from the office of a local medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, specialist, general hospital, rehabilitation hospital, provided that:

  • The transportation is to enable the person to receive a benefit under the Medicare Protection Act or a general hospital service under the Hospital Insurance Act; AND
  • There are no resources available to the person's family unit to cover the cost.

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