Disability assistance stipends provided by the BC government will increase by $50 per month beginning this April, the provincial government announced on Friday.
Approximately 107,000 people across the province with the persons with a disability designation currently receive a stipend of $983 per month. With the increase, this will go up to $1,033 per month for a single person.
But for couples, the stipend will be an additional $100 per month for a total of $1,773.
Altogether, the increase amounts to $199 million over three years and is part of the government’s 10-year plan to make BC the “most progressive jurisdiction in Canada for people with disabilities” by continuing “efforts to remove barriers for people with disabilities”.
However, this latest increase returns disability assistance rates closer to 2016 levels after the government’s decision last year to cancel a subsidized $45 annual bus pass and transportation subsidy program used by half of the disabled people with the designation.
The bus pass program cost BC taxpayers $52 per month while the transportation subsidy cost $66 per month. At the time, the government argued the cuts were offset by a $77 increase in monthly disability stipends.
Last week, TransLink announced separately it will increase HandyDART trips by 85,500 in 2017. Within Metro Vancouver, many disabled or elderly individuals use HandyDART services for door-to-door travel for medical appointments, work, community events, and to visit family and friends.
“HandyDART is a lifeline for people who are unable to use our buses and trains—that’s why we prioritized adding more HandyDART services as quickly as possible,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “It’s a critical service for our region, connecting customers with their communities and helping them get to where they need to go.”