BC Ombudsperson determines ministry contravened law related to income assistance benefits

B.C.’s Ombudsperson has found that the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction failed to follow the law in relation to the calculation of income assistance benefits.

An investigation arose from an individual’s complaint that the ministry had improperly imposed a one-month suspension of the earnings exemption

The Ombudsperson determined that a ministry policy which imposed a one-month hiatus of the earnings exemption for individuals with variable earnings contravened the law, the Employment and Assistance Regulation. 

The investigation found that even though the ministry was aware that the policy was inconsistent with the law, it continued to apply it. 

The policy had widespread impact, resulting in over 500 instances a year of individuals being denied up to $700 since 2012.

The report makes four recommendations including ensuring the ministry amend the relevant earnings exemption policy to comply with the law and that by October 1st, 2018 it reimburse all income assistance recipients whose benefits were improperly calculated.

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