Social Development and Social Innovation Minister Michelle Stilwell will introduce legislation today that will make it easier for some people with disabilities to receive disability assistance.
The proposed legislation will allow government to prescribe groups of people as Persons with Disabilities (PWD) without them completing a 28-page application or additional assessments by medical practitioners.
They will still need to apply for assistance and meet all other eligibility criteria.
When the legislation comes into force, people in the following provincial and federal programs will complete a much simpler PWD application process:
- Community Living BC (CLBC)
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development At Home Program
- BC PharmaCare Plan P – Palliative Care
- Canadian Pension Plan – Disability
Initially, about 1,000 people each year will benefit from the change, most of whom will be youth transitioning into CLBC services.
The legislation also allows government to identify other provincial and federal programs to help even more people in the future.
Over the last few years, the ministry has been working to streamline the disability assistance application process.
The ministry has also reduced the amount of time it takes to process an application for the Persons with Disabilities designation, and created a simplified form for youth transitioning to CLBC services.
The Province is a leader in reducing red tape. The B.C. government has been working steadily since 2001 to streamline services and eliminate the burden of excessive and unnecessary red tape for B.C. businesses and citizens.
The proposed legislation follows through on government’s commitment to further reduce red tape by focusing on improving service delivery for citizens.
These proposed changes also reflect feedback received from people with disabilities and disability organizations during the consultations on Accessibility 2024, government’s 10-year action plan that identifies what society can do to reduce barriers and create more accessible, inclusive communities.
As part of Accessibility 2024, the B.C. government has introduced a number of changes to better support people on disability assistance:
- In 2015, government raised the asset limit for people with the PWD designation from $5,000 to $100,000 for families where one person receives disability assistance, and to $200,000 for families where two people receive disability assistance. People on disability assistance can now also receive cash gifts or inheritances with no impact on their assistance, provided they remain within the asset limit. B.C. and Alberta now have the highest asset levels for people with disabilities in Canada.
- In 2012, earnings exemptions for people on disability assistance increased from $500 to $800 a month and in January 2015, B.C. became the first province in Canada to annualize those earnings exemptions up to $9,600 a year. This helps people with disabilities whose ability to work may fluctuate throughout the year keep more of the money they earn.
- In Budget 2015, the Province made child-support payments fully exempt for families receiving income and disability assistance; a change, benefiting 3,200 families and 5,400 children.
Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell –
“During the Accessibility 2024 consultations, individuals with disabilities and their families told us they wanted the application process for disability assistance to be easier. By recognizing disability designations from government agencies with similar requirements, we can reduce the amount of time individuals and families spend on paperwork when they apply for disability assistance. The changes proposed today, along with other recent changes to disability supports, will make it easier for British Columbians with disabilities to access the services and supports they need.”
Minister of Small Business, Red Tape Reduction and Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch Coralee Oakes –
“Eliminating duplicate processes is just one way to reduce red tape in government. Thanks to the changes proposed today many British Columbians with disabilities will benefit from a simplified application for disability assistance. Medical professionals will also have less paperwork.”
Jane Dyson, executive director, Disability Alliance BC –
“This is great news. Today's announcement will simplify the process of accessing disability assistance for hundreds of people with disabilities and their families every year. We understand that people asked for this change during the Accessibility 2024 consultations and it's certainly something that we hear people asking about at Disability Alliance BC. This change, in addition to the annualized earning exemption and higher asset limits for PWD recipients introduced over the last year will all benefit British Columbians with disabilities.”
Richard Faucher, executive director, Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion –
“I think the young people and families who are part of the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion will welcome this announcement. They have told us that the time of transition from children to adult services is very challenging for many reasons, including the process to qualify for Persons with Disabilities Benefits. The changes announced today are a sign that families are being heard on this issue, that solutions to navigate between systems are being sought and the unique needs of people with developmental disabilities are being understood. I think families and people with developmental disabilities will see today’s announcement as positive, and one that will help them to build good lives.”
Michelle Goos, mother of Cheyenne –
“This is great news. It will help my family out. Cheyenne will be transitioning into CLBC services soon. It is nice to have the government make this change, as it means less paper work to apply for PWD designation.”
- If passed, the proposed Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Amendment Act changes will come into effect with regulations, which are anticipated in September 2016.
- As of Dec. 31, 2015, more than 96,000 British Columbians are designated as PWD and receive disability assistance.
- On average, approximately 8,000 people apply for and receive disability assistance each year.
- The ministry will provide about $976 million in disability assistance in 2015-16, an increase of 162% since 2001-02.
- Reducing red tape involves changes to processes, forms, government websites, legislation to make services easier to access and simpler to use.
- In 2015, the Province held a six-week online consultation on reducing red tape for British Columbians. More than 5,900 people visited the site and shared more than 280 ideas, including simplifying the application process for people with disabilities.
For more information on the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation: www.gov.bc.ca/sdsi
Find out how the Province is taking action to reduce red tape: www.gov.bc.ca/helpcutredtape
For more on Accessibility 2024: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility