Will Premier Eby increase income and disability assistance rates above the poverty line?

Nov 22, 2022 | 42-3, Blog, Governance, Legislature, Question Period, Video | 12 comments

For a so-called progressive government to allow the provincial income and disability rates to languish $10,000 below the poverty line is totally unacceptable.

The BC NDP government likes to tell a story about this themselves and the fact that they have allowed disabled people to continue to live in poverty is heartbreaking and goes against everything the BC NDP claim to be.

So, with a new Premier, I want to know if this will change.



A. Olsen:

My question is to the Premier. Will he raise the provincial rates for income and disability assistance to above the poverty line?

Hon. N. Simons:

I thank the member for the question, very much.

Obviously, the issue of inflation and poverty are important to us as a government. You’ve seen the action that we’ve taken over the last couple of years. We had the largest single increase in income and disability assistance rates in the history of the province. We’ve taken a number of other affordability measures to reduce the impact of inflation and rising cost of living, which have been well received by people in the sector. We’re always looking at ways of reducing the impact of higher prices on people and always looking for ways of reducing poverty in this province.

I would point out, as well, that between 2016 and 2020, we raised over 104,000 children out of poverty during that period of time, and we’re going to continue to work on that.

Mr. Speaker:

House Leader, Third Party, supplemental.

A. Olsen:

I understand what the previous government’s approach to poverty reduction had been. I’m trying to get an understanding of what our new Premier’s approach to poverty is going to be.

The housing measures announced yesterday by the Premier don’t actually guarantee any affordability at all. The annual income for disabled people in British Columbia, even after what the minister just noted, is a dismal $16,000. That’s currently $10,000 below the poverty line.

Even under this so-called progressive government that we have here, the rates continue to languish. In the increase last year that the minister just mentioned, the increases have almost been entirely erased by inflation.

It’s heartbreaking, really. We have condemned those with disabilities to live in poverty in this province. We can’t fix housing without an intersectional lens. The executive director of B.C.’s. Homelessness Services Association said these rates “fall short of what’s needed for people to find housing.”

[10:55 a.m.]
The Premier must start by recognizing that raising our assistance rates is a necessary part of our housing strategy. Will the Premier raise the income and disability rates to be above the poverty line?

Hon. N. Simons:

I do, actually, appreciate getting questions on this issue because it’s important that we keep these issues in front of the public of B.C.

We know that the previous government is uninterested in this. As a matter of fact, the demonstrated actions of our government have indicated quite clearly that our interest is in reducing poverty in this province. We have a poverty reduction strategy. We have measured our successes. Our successes are considerable, but there is always more work to do.

Absolutely, the issues that the member raises are of concern to us, all of us as members of the government caucus. We’re proud to continue to work on finding ways to reduce poverty. That may include rates. It may include other benefits, tax benefits that have been rolled out over the last number of months.

The work continues. The work is an essential core of our government’s philosophy and our interest in reducing poverty in this province.


  1. Sharon Glynn

    Very, very important issue. Good job Adam.

  2. Dave

    Eby has backtracked on his promise of funding to treat the terrible drug problem in BC. I had hoped he would have announced an increase to PWD rates in BC as one of his first public statements. If he won’t raise disability rates in BC, the least he could do is revamp the BC Rental Assistance Program. It currently discriminates against you if your income is from social services. So if you are on PWD in BC, you are ineligible for rental assistance. So, if he wont raise rates, at least overhaul the BC Rental Assistance Program.

    • Markus J Wagner

      I think Mr Eby will come through to British Columbians. It is so easy to point the finger just because you may think that the other party will do better. Just take a look at how far we have come since NDP WAS elected. We need to sit down and work together as this issue is a bi Partizan one. I feel very grateful for what I do receive . Just take a look at many other countries and what those people receive. Things can always get better if we work together. I feel very optimistic when looking at the future.

  3. Gordon Egilson

    The Goverment keeps telling everybody about all these disability raises we got over the last few years.But what they dont say is,thats the first raise in disability pay in over 10 years.We got nothing before these raises,not even a cost of living raise.There so far behind,in getting us caught up,and they know it.So someone should bring that to there Attention,and tell them to quit patting themselves on there backs ,for giving us these way overdue disability increases.

    • Murray

      I totally agree! They are beating around the bush and just all ‘talk’ and no action. Something has to be done to raise disability rates. It’s absolutely shameful that they aren’t doing anything to resolve this issue!

    • Andrea demerais

      You are right and the rental allowance has not been raised more than $25 a month in over 20 years! It’s impossible to expect single people to find housing for $375. And BC housing refuses to allow people to be roommates when that change could help with the housing crisis. Why can a married couple live in a one bedroom but siblings or friends or roommates are not acceptable? One can sleep in the bedroom and the other the living room with a pullout couch for example. Bylaws need to be updated or exceptions made and subsidies available if they won’t give permanent realistic shelter raise…

  4. Linda Jutasi

    After having read the responses to the question of whether the bc government will raise PWD I have to the conclusion that it will most likely not happen. It is his absolute refusal to give a straightforward answer that I base my response on. As an older person on PWD I cam tell you that the measures they have implemented don’t amount to crap. Especially with the in rease in rent, groceries and other things. Our government really doesn’t know the true difficulty of trying to live off of approz 1400 a month in today’s economy. Until you have spent a real amount of time living this way stop believing you are helping because you are not.

    • rob

      Your take is my exact take, it is sad, in fact heartbreaking for those of on PWD. Inflation has taken any extra they gave.

      The response is political talk for NO PWD raises.

  5. Heather Macnab

    Those of us on CPP Disability get a cost of living increase every January ( small but still an increase). I am also on PWD. Every year, BC Disability SUBTRACTS that cost of living INCREASE that I receive from CPP off of my PWD top up! How is this allowed to happen?!

  6. James schultz

    CERB sat at $2000 a month .. yet BC pwd sits at $1358 …. and the province robs anyone who gets a cppd cheque dollar per dollar ..how about hands off money those of us who worked for should get for poverty reduction .. Im willing to bet the majority of people in our province want the end to this disgusting practice that harms people .

  7. Steve

    The NDP who present themselves as looking out for the people have dropped the ball on this issue of people on disability and their very low amount of income in one of the most expensive provinces in Canada. Given the high rates of rent, food prices, and just about everything else, people on disability are relegated to third world standards. The federal and provincial NDP make good sound bites about this issue but have done next to nothing on this. Rent has not gone down but in fact has gone up higher like everything else. Lots of talk very little action with all the years to have known this imbalance and not to have done something.

  8. TByTheC

    Property rental managers & REIT’s want 2.5x – 3x the income to rent ratio.

    BC PWD don’t have remotely to this, especially singles who are unable to work much, if at all.

    Dwindling are the property management/REIT’s who accept co-signers (which not all BC PWD have access to, either).

    Outside of the woefully little government or non profit housing, REIT’s tend to provide more stable & secure housing because unlike renting a private individual’s dwelling, they’re less subject to the owner an immediate family member wanting to take over the space, thrusting a low income renter into a current rental market they often cannot afford.

    Heck, renting a room in a stranger’s house often demands easily 50% or more of a BC PWD’s support cheque, not to mention there’s really no tenant protections when one rents a room.

    Renting a room in a stranger’s home isn’t suitable for all disabled people, especially those with PTSD, anxiety, chronic pain, chronic sleep issues, etc.

    And some health issues may not be accepted by someone with a room to rent.

    Home owners who are renting a suite or room often state in their ads they want working people or students only.

    Some know they can’t specify that, so instead they ask interested people to tell them about themselves and their income.

    Then, the majority never respond back, even if a PWD’s disability is fairly low-key and they have good references, including from an unbiased source.

    So, what do PWD when as a single, or as roommates they try to find a rental but have barriers every which way? BC Housing takes years to even *maybe* get a call from.

    There are no rental subsidies for BC PWD, although with all the virtually impossible hoops we have to attempt to jump through just to be considered for a place to live, a subsidy while vitally important to helping us afford rent (& expensive electric heat which most rentals have), doesn’t help with the stigma against lower income people, even those with good references.

    Single PWD also shouldn’t be relegated to a lifetime in a bachelor unit for ongoing noise reasons. Most units aren’t sufficiently sound proofed.

    Frequent or jarring noise can keep the nervous system of people with many health issues on edge, which oftentimes they already are due to the nature of their disability.

    It’s hard to focus on trying to maintain ‘good’ health days or to recover from flare ups if one has no bedroom for respite from day to day (or nighttime noise of night owls) noise (TV/music/loud talking and heavy footsteps of neighbours, etc) to get some peace and quiet or a chance to finally get a bit of sleep when they can.

    We absolutely need more subsidized housing for low income disabled people, especially singles who have a finite or unpredictable additional income, and we need a raise in disability rates.

    A government looks silly touting small increases that still leaves a disabled person well below the poverty line through no fault of their own.


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