The British Columbia government is increasing disability and income assistance rates by $175 per month, but is falling short of making the $300-per-month COVID-19 boost permanent.
Social Development Minister Nicholas Simons said Tuesday the increase will cost about $400 million per year and benefit more than 300,000 people.
It’s the largest ever permanent hike to income assistance and disability assistance rates in the province and will be applied starting in April.
“This past year has been challenging for everyone, and especially so for those British Columbians already relying on assistance to make ends meet,” Simons said.
“Now that we are seeing signs of some economic recovery from COVID-19, it’s essential we provide the stability of a permanent rate increase for people and families, including 49,000 children who live in poverty.”
The province is also raising the seniors’ assistance supplement, by $50 a month per resident, for the first time since 1987.
This lifts the maximum rate for a single person from $49.30 to $99.30 per month and benefits up to 20,000 more low-income seniors.
The temporary $300-per-month disability and income assistance benefit to help recipients deal with the pandemic expired in December.
Eligible British Columbians can still access the COVID-19 Recovery Benefit, which helps people based on income.
“This increase — the largest that people on income assistance and disability assistance have seen – is a critical piece in working toward the fulfilment of our province’s poverty reduction goals,” Together Against Poverty Society executive director Doug King said.
As of April 1, a single person on income assistance will receive $935 per month and a single person on disability assistance will receive $1,358.42.
A couple on income assistance will receive $1,427.22 per month and a couple on disability assistance will receive $1,947.56, after increases of $350 per month.
A single parent with one child will receive $1,270.58 if on income assistance and $1,694.08 if on disability assistance, plus up to $697 in federal and provincial child benefits.