B.C. social assistance clawback talks set for Dec. 10, says minister

Don McRae was elected on May 14, 2013 as MLA for Comox Valley. He was appointed Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation on June 7, 2013. Don McRae MLA website

VICTORIA – Social Development Minister Don McRae says he’ll start talks next month on the future of the government’s so-called support-payment clawback program.

The program kicks in when families on government assistance receive court-ordered child support payments, and as a result welfare or disability payments are cut so overall monthly payments don’t exceed the government limits.

The consultations were scheduled to start last week, but McRae apologized on Tuesday for their abrupt postponement.

“In June 2014, I committed to having a dialogue going forward, and on Dec. 10, which is in the fall, we will begin it.”

McRae’s announcement came as the Opposition New Democrats and about a dozen people appeared at the legislature to push for immediate removal of the program.

McRae said the consultations are part of the government’s evolving goals to help British Columbia’s most vulnerable citizens become self-supporting.

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“The work is not done yet.” he said. “We will continue it.”

Nelson-Creston New Democrat Michelle Mungall said the clawback creates a hardship for many families receiving social assistance or disability payments.

“No one, no one believes the minister when he says he can’t afford to give B.C.’s poorest kids their money back,” she said.

The government’s all-party finance committee recommended a review of the program in its annual report to the Finance Ministry.

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