For Immediate Release
Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories
The Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) supports the new, encouraging COVID-19 income and disability measures to help British Columbians announced by the provincial Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (“the Ministry”).
- People already receiving income assistance or provincial disability assistance who are also eligible for the new Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or EI because of work lost due to COVID-19, will not have their Ministry assistance reduced.
- People not qualifying for CERB or EI will receive an additional automatic supplement of $300 per month for three months, beginning in May, in addition to receiving their usual income assistance, provincial disability assistance, comforts allowance, or BC senior’s supplement.
- In addition, those on provincial disability assistance who receive a BC Bus Pass will now automatically receive the $52 transportation supplement on their monthly cheque. This will last for as long as the suspension on BC Transit and TransLink bus fares is in place. For services like Skytrain and Seabus that still charge fares, compass cards previously issued can still be used.
CLAS will advocate for similar supports, including the $300 monthly supplement, for people who have Medical Services Only (MSO) coverage and receive federal disability pensions. We are also asking government to ensure that people with no access to phones or the internet can still get the help they need. In this crisis flexibility for those who need help and those who provide help is more than ever necessary.
We want to ensure that all BC residents receiving benefits from the Ministry will be able to access additional supports to meet their basic needs in this time of crisis. Monetary caps on all crisis supplements should be temporarily eliminated, and discretion used as to the amount of crisis supplements required for food, shelter, and clothing. The current situation is constantly changing, and we are engaging in continued dialogue with the provincial government so that all British Columbians are able to access the supports they need. We must continue to advocate for those who may be falling through the gaps between these new support initiatives.