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

Roundup: More than 20 fires burning in West Kootenay

Evacuation alerts for Renata and areas near Rossland

Louise Baxter found after 72 hour search

Cranbrook hiker had been missing since Sunday, August 12, near Jumbo Pass.

First responder vehicles scrapped after acid spills in Trail

The City of Trail is using GPS to check its fleet; no infrastructure concerns have arisen

Meth, cocaine and heroin seized in Trail drug bust

A joint investigation team executed a search warrant in Trail on Aug. 9

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin has died

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn reports Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit

UPDATED: B.C. RCMP dismantle Kinder Morgan protest camp

RCMP say they will enforce a court injunction today and remove Trans Mountain pipeline protesters who have been camped outside a Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby.

Castlegar food bank collecting school supplies

‘What we can do is make sure they start their school year with the things they need — ready to learn.’

Nelson council gives next council a raise

Size of increase disregards advice of appointed committee

Italy says death toll will mount in Genoa bridge collapse

Authorities worried about the stability of remaining large sections of a partially collapsed bridge evacuated about 630 people from nearby apartments.

Former CIA Director: Trump worked with Russians and now he’s desperate

In an opinion piece in The New York Times, John Brennan cites press reports and Trump’s own goading of Russia during the campaign to find Democrat Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.

Church sex scandal: Abuse victims want a full reckoning

Since the crisis exploded in Boston in 2002, dioceses around the country have dealt with similar revelations of widespread sexual abuse.

Baloney Meter: is flow of asylum seekers at Canada-U.S. border a ‘crisis’?

“I think any time you have a government that allows 30,000 people over the course of a short period of time to come into Canada illegally, the impact that that has, that is a crisis,” said Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

Altidore nets 3 as Toronto drubs Whitecaps 5-2

Vancouver falls 7-4 on aggregate in Canadian Championship final

Most Read