A permanent increase to income and disability assistance will be taking effect next month, said Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Nicholas Simons in a March 16 announcement.
“This past year has been a challenging one for all British Columbians, and especially for those relying on assistance to help them make ends meet,” said Simons, MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast, during a media briefing from Victoria.
“Now that we are seeing signs of some economic recovery from COVID-19, it’s essential we provide some stability for people and families, including 49,000 children who are living in poverty.”
People on income and disability assistance will receive a permanent, automatic monthly increase of $175. It’s expected to impact more than 300,000 residents.
This is the third increase since July 2017, totalling $325 per month.
The cost of the program is expected to be $400 million per year, said Simons.
During questions Simons was asked why the amount wasn’t increased by $300 to replace the COVID-19 supplement, which groups had asked to make permanent.
Simons noted that supplement was temporary and extended twice, and the Recovery Benefit was also added for eligible residents.
“It’s the largest single increase in the history of British Columbia,” said Simons of the $175. He said people in the sector told him it was “welcome news.”
In a release, Together Against Poverty Society executive director Doug King said “the permanent nature of the increase is critical in allowing those on income assistance and disability assistance to be able to rely on this support in the long term.”
In the legislature, the Opposition Liberals accused the government of clawing back portions of a COVID-19 crisis supplement and recovery benefit from disabled and low-income people.
– with files from the Canadian Press