B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke. (Submitted)

B.C. to reimburse docked income assistance to thousands of recipients

Province had incorrectly docked up to $700 from more than 500 people a year

The province will reimburse thousands of people up to $700 each after an ombudsperson investigation found that the government miscalculated their income assistance payments.

In a report released Tuesday, the B.C. Ombudsperson said that the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction had incorrectly denied earnings exemptions to more than 500 people a year since 2012.

In B.C., income assistance recipients are docked some assistance per month based on how much outside income they bring in.

However, most recipients qualify for an monthly earning exemption of between $400 and $700. An exemption of $600 is available for people with a dependent child and a $700 exemption is available for those with a dependent child with a condition that prevents the caretaker from working more than 30 hours a week or those who have “persistent multiple barriers to employment.”

All other recipients get a $400 exemption, except people who have “no dependent children, no fixed address, and in the Minister’s opinion, is not taking up permanent residence in the community in which the person submits an application for income assistance.”

READ MORE: B.C. income assistance clients left on hold

However, under the province’s policy, the earning exemption is waived for the first month after someone applies for income assistance.

The investigation stemmed from a complaint by an income recipient assistant (dubbed Ms. Smith) who complained that she had been unfairly denied the earnings exemption in March 2016.

Smith, who had a serious medical condition that made her eligible for a $700 exemption, was able to work from time-to-time, meaning she had to reapply for income assistance.

As a result, she was regularly denied the earning exemption.

Ombudsperson Jay Chalke found that the province acted wrongly by continuing to deny the earning exemption for the first month to all applicants, despite having manually made the exemption for Smith once her complaint was received.

Chalke said that the ministry “acted unjustly and oppressively” in making recipients who were denied the exemption apply to have the ministry reconsider.

The ministry has been told to reimburse all income assistance recipients who missed out on the earning exemption since October 2012 by October of this year.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Crews successfully battle overnight house fire in Tie Lake

No injuries, home damage minimal thanks to quick response by crews

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

UPDATED: Pratt to be acclaimed as Cranbrook mayor

Mayor will serve another term after running unopposed in the upcoming municipal election

Eight cattle dead in tunnel crash

RCMP thanks agencies after cattle truck crash; investigates vehicle and thrift store thefts

Parlez-vous français? Fernie students do!

Francophone and schools offering French immersion popular among Elk Valley families

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Youth give back to community

On August 30, Eliora and William Vandersteen, Matthew White, Isla Vandersteen, Alexis… Continue reading

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

Most Read