The Government of B.C. has proposed changes to legislation that will allow better and faster access to supports for people experiencing, or at risk of poverty and homelessness. These changes would impact the employment legislation as part of their commitment through TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.

The proposed changes introduced include:

  • improving the financial security of low-income seniors by ending the need for people on income and disability assistance to pursue early Canada Pension Plan retirement benefits if they are younger than 65;
  • protecting vulnerable youth by eliminating the two-year independence rule as a barrier to receiving income assistance;
  • modernizing the ministry’s definition of spouse to better support people entering and leaving relationships by: increasing the amount of time two people can live together in a common-law relationship before reducing their assistance to the lower couple’s rate; and providing the singles assistance rate to two married people who have separated but not yet divorced, and are living in the same residence independently. 
  • eliminating the practice of cutting people off from assistance who are homeless or at risk of homelessness if they are unable to provide documentation for eligibility and replacing the practice with a modest monetary penalty;
  • ensuring that the repayment of amounts owing to the ministry is consistent by creating more fair and flexible monthly maximum deductions for people receiving assistance;
  • helping people receive eligible assistance sooner by aligning the Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal (EAAT) with other tribunals in B.C. to allow for new evidence to be presented in an existing appeal process, rather than requiring people to reapply.

The government says the changes have been advocated by people with lived experience and the organizations that support them. 

Most of the changes will come into effect Jan. 1, 2020, with the rest to come into effect once the necessary regulatory changes are made.

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