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B.C. announces new $52 per month transit supplement for people with disabilities

A HandyDART user is seen in this file photo. .
A HandyDART user is seen in this file photo. . Global News

British Columbians with disabilities will have a little more money to help cover the costs of transportation in the new year.

B.C.’s NDP government has announced a $52 per month supplement for people on disability assistance over and above financial support they are already receiving.

LISTEN: More money for people with disabilities to cover transportation costs

The transportation allowance will not affect the existing $1,133 monthly payment people with disabilities currently get, said Social Development Minister Shane Simpson.

“What we’ve done now is said these are separate and distinct. So you have what would be the current rate for people on assistance, and $52 is a separate and distinct amount of money they will receive in addition to the dollars they receive.”

READ MORE: Disabled protesters say B.C. bus pass fee ‘mean’

The new supplements will begin to flow on Dec. 20, and are estimated to cost the province about $70 million per year.

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The province is also creating an annualized bus pass for persons with disabilities (PWD), which will be available beginning on Jan. 1, 2018.

People with disabilities can either use the supplement to pay for the bus pass, or can direct it to other transportation needs such as HandyDART or taxis, said Simpson.

“If somebody has chosen to take the bus pass it will list as a transportation supplement of a bus pass. And we’re prepared and happy to arrange for those bus passes for people if they want the annualized bus pass, but it will all come on one cheque.”

WATCH: Thousands sign petition calling on premier to restore disability bus pass funding

Thousands sign petition calling on premier to restore disability bus pass funding
Thousands sign petition calling on premier to restore disability bus pass funding

Prior to 2016, PWD were eligible for a $45 annual bus pass.

In the 2016 budget, the former BC Liberal government raised monthly disability assistance rates by $77, but eliminated the annual bus pass and implemented new $52 per month bus passes for PWD.

READ MORE: John Horgan announces $100 increase to income and disability assistance

That move sparked protest from disability advocates, including a petition signed by more than 15,000 people.

In July, the province announced that disability assistance rates were rising by $100 per month.

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That change took effect on Sunday.