Letter: Confusion surrounds changes to disability funding

Editor: I would like to clear up some of the confusion around the rate increases for people on disability assistance.

Our government is providing $170 million in new money over three years to increase assistance for the 100,000 people with disabilities who are served by my ministry.

In September, everyone  receiving disability assistance will see an increase of up to $77 per month. This increase brings fairness to our system of transportation supports, which are currently unavailable in many parts of B.C.

There are currently 45,000 people on disability assistance who don’t or can’t access a subsidized B.C. Bus Pass, while the rest receive additional benefits in the form of a bus pass or transportation subsidy.

Beginning Sept. 1 those 45,000 clients will receive a rate increase of $77 a month to spend as they see fit — including on local transportation.

For the 35,000 clients who currently receive the additional benefit of a monthly bus pass, they will get a rate increase of $25 per month if they choose to continue to receive the pass.

But let me be clear, people on disability assistance will continue to have access to a subsidized, annual bus pass, and no one’s benefits are being reduced. The bus pass is not being cancelled.

Existing bus passes will remain valid until the end of this year.

People who choose to keep their annual subsidized bus pass will see no change in the process.  They will receive their annual renewal notification this summer, as in previous years.  The pass will still be valid for a full calendar year beginning in January, as in previous years.

I know people were hoping for a greater increase in rates, but this is what we can afford to do right now. These changes create equity in the system and mean all people receiving disability assistance, no matter where they live, benefit in some way.

Michelle Stilwell,

Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation

Langley Times