Guaranteed Annual Income Forum

DABC is one of the community organizations, along with Vancity, who are hosting this important forum on the Guaranteed Annual Income.

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Silas Community Conversations

INVITATION SILAS Community Conversations

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Province to provide $24 million for supports benefiting families living on low incomes

The excerpt below has been taken from a press release posted on the BC Provincial government’s website. Read the full press release here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017SDSI0036-000781

“The Province is investing $24 million to increase access for low-income families to fresh food, dental and hearing care for children, and to support community initiatives to reduce poverty.

The funding includes $10 million to Food Banks BC to help the organization’s 100 food banks throughout the province receive, store and distribute fresh, healthy food to those in need.

Food Banks BC will invest $6.5 million for transporting nutritious food from farms, grocery stores and restaurants and $3.5 million for refrigeration to store and distribute the food. This funding builds on the Provincial Farmers’ Food Donation Tax Credit announced in 2016.

This tax credit was designed to connect B.C. families needing food supports with more healthy fresh food by encouraging food producers and farmers to donate surplus agricultural products – such as fresh vegetables, meat, grain and dairy – to local foodbanks and charities. The $10-million investment will mean that food banks throughout B.C. will now have the proper capacity to receive these fresh products and deliver them to families.

The Province is also increasing funding by $6 million annually for the BC Healthy Kids Program to include coverage for hearing aids and improve rates for dental services for children. Almost $23 million a year is currently invested in the program which provides dental care and prescription eyewear to children living in low-income families. About 166,000 low and moderate-income families are eligible for Healthy Kids supports. The changes will come into effect in September 2017.

An additional $1 million in one-time funding will go to the BC Dental Association (BCDA) to further support regular dental care for children from low-income families. The funds will help cover operating and capital costs – such as replacement equipment – at 20 not-for-profit community dental clinics throughout the province that provide dental treatment at reduced cost to low-income families.

To help communities address the root causes of poverty at the local level, government is investing $7 million for a new Community Poverty Reduction Fund that will support community-driven programs tailored to the unique circumstances and needs of each region. This fund responds to feedback the Province has received from communities participating in the Community Poverty Reduction Strategies Initiative and other organizations involved with poverty reduction.

The fund will be administered by the Vancouver Foundation and support initiatives such as developing local strategies to reduce poverty, growing local partnerships and launching poverty reduction pilot projects that are either innovative or proving successful in other jurisdictions.”

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DABC Community Update: Disability Assistance Rate Increase and New Child Benefit Exemptions

March 2017

Community Update
Disability Assistance Rate Increase and New Child Benefit Exemptions

The monthly disability assistance rate for people receiving Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefits from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI) will increase by $50 beginning with the cheque that will be issued on March 22 (for April benefits). Families with two people designated as PWDs will receive a $100 increase. The new maximum rate for support, shelter, and transportation for a single person is $1033.42.

People receiving Room and Board benefits and the Comforts Allowance for people residing in a special care facility will also get the benefit of this increase. The Comforts Allowance for support and transportation for a single person will be $222.

Disability Alliance BC welcomes any increase to the disability assistance rates, and we particularly pleased that the Comforts Allowance has been increased significantly over the last year: up from $95 a month. At the same time, we are disappointed that the increase is not greater, and that there is no commitment to index the rates or to a timeline to introduce regular increases to the rates.

It is also disappointing that the Province’s budget contains no monthly increase for people receiving income assistance (IA) and Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers to Employment (PPMB) benefits. These rates remain frozen at $610 and $657.92 respectively for single persons. Many people with disabilities receive IA or PPMB benefits for months or years before transitioning to PWD.

New Exemptions for Certain Child Benefits

The Province has also announced that effective April 1 the Canada Pension Plan disabled contributor’s child benefit, foster-care payments, and Public Guardian and Trustee payments for children will all be exempt from calculations of income and disability assistance.
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If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact our Advocacy Access Program at 604-872-1278 or 1-800-663-1278 to talk to an advocate.

 

 

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Community Update: Changes to Online Application for Disability and Income Assistance

March 2017

At the end of February, the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI) introduced major changes to the way that British Columbians apply for disability and income assistance. Here are the main changes as explained by the MSDSI:

• People who apply for income and disability assistance are now required to register for the Ministry’s MySelfServe online service and acquire a BCeID to start an application. Applicants need to start the process at myselfserve.gov.bc.ca;

• The new application gives the option to upload documents electronically rather than delivering them to a MSDSI office. People who prefer to deliver documents directly to a Ministry office can still do this;

• The new application is optimized for use on mobile phones;

• People who are unable to apply for assistance themselves can request that a Ministry worker assist them to fill out the application over the telephone. To request help call 1-866-866-0800. The worker you talk to should make a request for someone to call back within 3 days to go through the application on the phone;

• The new application questions will have less redundant information than the old application. For example, people without children will no longer be asked to provide information about the amount of child benefits they receive;

• Some confusing questions from the old application have been clarified;

Disability Alliance BC (DABC) is monitoring the impact of these changes. The former online application had some significant issues, and we are pleased that there have been changes made to help address this. At the same time, we have some concerns that the new system will create confusion and be challenging for individuals and community organizations familiar with the old system.

Some of the concerns that have been identified by DABC and the community about the new process include:

• Some people may find the multi-step process of registering for MySelfServe and BCeID confusing;

• It does not adequately notify people of the option to submit supporting documentation directly to a MSDSI office rather than electronically. This could create time delays and barriers to access for those unfamiliar with the application process or who are not comfortable using computers;

• The Ministry often does not provide adequate support to people who require in-person help to apply for disability or income assistance. As a result individuals may be insufficiently supported and find it necessary to contact a community agency for help.

If you have any questions about how the new system works, please feel free to contact our Advocacy Access Program at 604-872-1278 or 1-800-663-1278 to talk to an advocate. We would also like to hear about any challenges you are hearing from your clients with the new system; please contact Advocacy Access Program Director Sam Turcott. This helps us in our consultations with the Ministry on operational issues.

Thank you

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Community Update: Changes to Disability Tax Credit Certificate

Several changes were recently made to the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) Certificate which is used to apply for the DTC.

New Address for DTC Applications

One significant change is that residents of BC are now instructed to send their DTC applications to the Winnipeg Tax Centre. Previously BC residents were instructed to send these applications to the Surrey Tax Centre. The Winnipeg Tax Centre address is:

Winnipeg Tax Centre
66 Stapon Road
Winnipeg MB R3C 3M2

We have some concerns that this change will create inconvenience or confusion for people applying for the DTC. However, we also hope that centralizing the review of DTC applications will result in better and more consistent administration of the DTC over time.

Shorter “Effects of Impairment” Section

The section “Effects of Impairment” on page 5 has also been significantly shortened. This is the only section of the DTC where substantive information about the impacts of a person’s disability can be provided and is very important to establish DTC eligibility. We remind applicants and their doctors that they have the right to attach additional sheets of paper to the application if there is insufficient space in that section to explain the effects of their disabilities.

Other Changes

In addition to these changes there have been a number of other changes to the application including new language in the section for applicants applying under the “Life-sustaining Therapy” category.

The DTC application form can be downloaded from the Canada Revenue Agency website (link) or requested through 1-800-959-8281.
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DABC now provides help and support to apply for the DTC to people in BC who are eligible for the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) through our Access RDSP initiative. We thank the Vancouver Foundation for their generous funding of this work as well as our partner organizations Plan Institute and the BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society. For more information about the DTC and the RDSP please feel free to contact us at 604-872-1278 or toll free at 1-800-663-1278.

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