ACCESS TO WELFARE

BCPIAC works on systemic issues concerning provincial income assistance (welfare).  We are currently focusing on issues impacting access to welfare.

In recent years, BC’s welfare ministry has radically altered its service delivery model in ways that have made it very difficult for the most marginalized people in the province to access basic services (i.e. closing ministry offices and reducing office hours, providing the majority of services over a centralized phone line, placing arbitrary limits on phone call length, requiring that the lengthy initial application be completed online).

The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition has released a video of first hand experience of what these changes mean for people.

Together, these changes create serious barriers for the most vulnerable people in the province to access essential funding for their basic needs. Individuals receiving income assistance have very little money. Many live in unstable housing and some are homeless. This means that many do not own a phone, and many that do own phones use “pay as you go” plans that run out quickly. Most income assistance recipients do not own a computer and many are not computer literate. For those that do have a computer, few can afford internet access. Our work in this area aims to highlight and challenge the incongruence between the ministry’s current service delivery model and the lives of the people that the system should be serving.

In addition to overall system design, we are also working on specific issues related to access to welfare, including the following:

  • Access to immediate assistance where there is an urgent need for food, shelter, or medical attention
  • Access to interpretation services
  • Simplifying the application for income assistance and disability assistance

welfare_banner_03 ACCESS TO WELFARE

RECENT NEWS IN ACCESS TO WELFARE

Open Letter Regarding Access Barriers to Applying for Income Assistance

To All Candidates in the 2017 BC Provincial Election: Re:     Access Barriers to Applying for Income Assistance We are writing to you as a candidate in the provincial election on behalf of more than sixty undersigned organizations to collectively express our concerns regarding chronic and serious barriers British Columbians face ...
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Campaign calls on BC government and official opposition to “step up for Women’s equality”

West Coast LEAF, a BC organization dedicated to promoting women’s equality through the law, along with a long list of endorsing BC organizations, have called on the BC government and the official opposition to step up for Women's equality and "commit to implementing – fully and without delay – the UN’s ...
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BC man wins important human rights victory for Deaf people in need of welfare

For Immediate Release | BCPIAC VANCOUVER, B.C. – Christopher Shay has won his human rights complaint against the BC Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, with the Ministry agreeing to make a range of changes to improve accessibility and fairness for people who have communication barriers and need welfare ...
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Ombudsperson office denied request for systemic investigation into inaccessibility at BC’s welfare ministry

For Immediate Release | BCPIAC In a decision dated June 23, 2015, then Ombudsperson, Kim Carter, denied the request of nine social service agencies from across the province for a systemic investigation into service reductions at the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation that shut out many eligible people ...
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Income assistance program failing B.C.’s most vulnerable, advocates say

July 01, 2015 | Kat Sieniuc | The Globe and Mail Link to original article Christopher Shay thought he was going to lose everything. An unsuccessful job search left the 42-year-old man broke, hungry and with an eviction notice for his Vancouver-area apartment. Mr. Shay, who is deaf, applied to ...
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Welfare process assailed for ‘extreme’ delay

June 23, 2015 | Stefania Seccia | 24 hours Link to original article Unable to find work after taking time off school to pay his student loan bills, Christopher Shay found himself needing social assistance. He didn’t expect the system assigned to support him would place more barriers in his ...
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Deaf man takes B.C. ministry to Human Rights Tribunal over delays in income assistance

June 23, 2015 | Cheryl Chan | The Province Link to original article When Christopher Shay applied for income assistance in September, he was at his wit’s end. Shay, who is deaf, had applied for various jobs since August, a month after taking a hiatus from his computer science program ...
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Welfare ministry fails to recognize access problems exist

Erin Pritchard & Lobat Sadrehashemi | The Vancouver Sun Link to original article BCPIAC filed a complaint to the BC Ombudsperson on May 12, 2015 on behalf of nine community service agencies across the province, based on evidence that some of BC’s most vulnerable people are being denied access to ...
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BC Residents Living in Poverty Deserve Accountability

On May 12, 2015 BCPIAC filed a complaint to the BC Ombudsperson on behalf of nine community service agencies across the province, based on evidence that some of BC’s most vulnerable people are being denied access to basic welfare services. Fourteen Ministry offices have been closed completely since 2005, and ...
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Online welfare system a barrier: advocate

May 13, 2015 | Stefania Seccia | 24 HOURS Link to original article Nine groups filed an official complaint with the B.C. ombudsperson Tuesday over allegations that the government has slashed access to welfare despite claiming enhanced services. Over the last five years, the Ministry of Social Development and Social ...
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