No person with an intellectual disability lives in poverty.
Why it’s important
Keeping people with disabilities poor is inhumane. Living in poverty increases the risk of physical health problems due to poor nutrition, housing and access to health care. The social effects of poverty — including isolation, loneliness, and alienation from community life — contribute to both physical and mental health concerns. Ultimately, the result of these negative social effects is more costly than providing access to needed income supports.
We know that:
- Canadians with disabilities are twice as likely as those without disabilities to
live in poverty.
- 1/2 of Canadians with intellectual disabilities are on social assistance
- People with disabilities in BC receive only $375 per month for shelter
What do we need?
PWD (Persons with Disabilities) Income Benefit
Many British Columbians with intellectual disabilities live in poverty. Many are poor because they cannot find jobs, or can only find jobs that pay very low wages.
BC’s Ministry of Social Development & Poverty Reduction provides a monthly disability benefit to support some people with disabilities who are unable to support themselves through employment. People who receive PWD (Persons with Disabilities) benefits also get free access to very basic healthcare. Some may also qualify for Community Living BC’s supported employment or residential programs.
In 2017, PWD rates increased by $150 to $1,133/month for a single person. Effective January 2018, PWD recipients also began receiving a $52 monthly transportation supplement to pay for a transit pass or other transportation options.
In 2017, earnings exemptions were also increased, so a single person receiving PWD benefits can now earn up to $12,000/year before their PWD benefits are reduced.
Despite these welcome improvements, more than 100,000 British Columbians with disabilities struggle to live on PWD benefits that don’t cover basic needs for food, housing and transportation. A study by University of Victoria professor Michael Prince found that 2016 PWD rates only covered about 60% of the basic cost of necessities in most BC communities. (Read the report here.) For example, the $375 maximum monthly allowance for housing is far below actual costs in many parts of the province.
Our position: Inclusion BC has urged BC to raise PWD rates to $1,500/month, with future indexing to inflation. We have also urged BC to introduce portable housing subsidies to ensure that people living on PWD benefits can access safe, accessible and inclusive housing anywhere in the province.
“We are always in the red. Costs are rising for everything, but our benefits and services stay the same or go down. There is rent to pay, damage deposits, winter boots to buy” (self advocates in Burnaby)