New Westminster, B.C.; February 12, 2016

The Government of B.C. announced on February 11, changes that will streamline the benefit application process for certain groups of people with disabilities. Inclusion BC welcomes this news, which will improve the experience of many families supporting a youth with a developmental disability.

Inclusion BC Executive Director Faith Bodnar says, “The transition out of high school is a difficult time for many families of youth with developmental disabilities. Simplifying the onerous process of applying for PWD benefits eliminates the need for families to repeatedly submit the same information over and over again to different branches of government.”

Inclusion BC commends the Province of BC for this and other recent positive changes to PWD benefits, including an increase in asset limits, earnings exemptions and child support payment exemptions.

While these announcements are welcome and will improve the experiences of people living on benefits, they fail to address the serious and urgent problem of shamefully low disability benefit rates in B.C, which lag far behind the dramatic increase in cost of living.

BC is well documented as being one of the most expensive provinces in Canada to live in and yet continues to have one of the lowest disability benefit rates. At a rate of $906/month for an individual, the gap between what PWD recipients need and what they receive is growing, and will continue to grow, unless BC changes the way it assists individuals and families with disabilities.

As we anticipate the BC Government’s 2016 budget tabled next week, Inclusion BC calls for a substantial increase in the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefit to reflect the cost of living in this province so that people who rely on benefits are not relegated to living in poverty.

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