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

Haida Gwaii seabird conservation highlighted at international congress

Bird Studies Canada’s David Bradley is co-convening a symposium on biosecurity for island species

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Ferry sailing delayed after divers check Northern Adventure

Divers called in to check propeller shaft, sailing to Haida Gwaii now 140 minutes behind

Haida Gwaii fishery staff gear up for marine mammal rescues

Haida fishery guardians and DFO fishery officers better equipped to rescue marine mammals

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

‘Takes more courage to fail’: B.C. ultra-marathon swimmer reflects on cancelled try at record

Susan Simmons halted her swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back because of hypothermia

Animals moved from B.C. Interior shelters to make way for pets displaced by wildfires

The Maple Ridge SPCA houses animals to make space for pets evacuated from B.C.’s burning interior.

$21.5 million medical pot plant to be built in B.C.

The facility is to be built in Princeton

Spokane man enlists 500,000+ box fans to blow wildfire smoke back to B.C.

Spokane man Caleb Moon says he’s had enough with smoky skies from B.C.’s forest fires blanketing his city

Feds agree to look at easing jury secrecy as part of review

At issue is a law that forbids jurors from talking about closed-door deliberations

Forest fuel work needed to slow wildfires, B.C. premier says

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan joins John Horgan for tour

Liberals unveil poverty plan with lofty goals, but no new spending

Government’s goal is to lift 2.1 million people out of poverty by 2030

PHOTOS: Prickly porcupine rescued after hitchhiking down Coquihalla Highway

BC Conservation Officer Service members were able to grab the porcupine and move it to safety

Most Read