BC Income Assistance Payment Dates & Benefits 2021

This post covers the British Columbia income assistance payment dates for 2021, income assistance amounts, the eligibility and how to apply for it.

BC Income Assistance Payment Dates 2021

Also called “Welfare Wednesday” in British Columbia, the income assistance payments are issued on the third or fourth Wednesday of each month.

The BC income assistance payment dates for 2021 are:

Benefit MonthsIncome Assistance Payment Dates
February 2021January 20, 2021
March 2021February 17, 2021
April 2021March 24, 2021
May 2021April 21, 2021
June 2021May 19, 2021
July 2021June 23, 2021
August 2021July 21, 2021
September 2021August 25, 2021
October 2021September 22, 2021
November 2021October 20, 2021
December 2021November 17, 2021
January 2021December 15, 2021

The January 2021 payments were issued on December 16th ,2020 because payments for each benefit month are issued a few days before the end of the previous month.

You can receive the payments as a direct deposit in your bank account. This is the safe, convenient and preferred option that ensures you’ll receive your assistance amounts on the payment dates.

Instructions on how to setup direct deposits can be found here. Check below for information on how to receive the payments as cheque instead.

Income Assistance cheque dates

If you prefer to receive your assistance payments as cheque, you can either pick it up at a local government office or have it mailed to you.

The income assistance cheque issue dates are still the same as the payment dates above. But to ensure they are received on time by the income assistance payment dates, they’re sent out earlier by Sunday.

If you’ve selected the pick up option at a government office, the cheques will be delivered to the offices by Monday and be available for pickup afterwards.

What is BC Income Assistance?

The British Columbia income assistance program is a financial assistance incentive for those in need that have no other means of supporting themselves.

It provides a monthly income assistance rate that depends on the applicant’s situation and family size. Access to medical services plan coverage and PharmaCare prescription coverage are also provided where applicable.

Another key part of the program is helping recipients to transition to gainful employment through targeted employment services from WorkBC.

Income Assistance Benefits

The income assistance benefits include a monthly financial support and other benefits for eligible applicants. The details are provided below

Financial Support

Income assistance recipients get a monthly amount that covers their basic needs and is made up of the:

  • Support rate; and
  • Shelter allowance

How much you can get depends on your specific situation and the family size. The higher the family size, the more money you can receive.

A single recipient with no dependents can receive up to a maximum of $935 each month as income assistance, made up of $560 as support rate and $375 as shelter allowance.

On the other hand, a couple that both qualify for income assistance but have no children may receive up to $1,427.22 per month – support rate of $$857.22 and shelter of $570.

The income assistance rate for 2021 is summarized and shown in a subsequent section below.

Supplements

Like the Persons With Disability (PWD) benefit recipients, income assistance beneficiaries also receive additional services and money through the supplements benefits. There are 2 main categories that cover more than 30 different supplements:

  • General Supplements
  • Health Supplements

General supplements include Bus pass (cash or as bus pass), clothing, crisis supplement, guide dog and service dog, travel, pre-natal shelter, camp fees, Christmas bonus and many more.

Health Benefits include extended medical therapies, hearing instruments, alternative hearing assistance, Dental, Optical, medical supplies, equipment and devices, natal and nutritional supplement and so on.

The full list of supplements can be found here. Each supplement may have its own additional eligibility criteria. So you should contact the Ministry via phone, visit a local office or speak to your caseworker to know if you’re eligible and how to apply.

Employment Support through WorkBC

If you’re on Income Assistance and are able to work, you’ll be required to actively look for work. You’ll need to fill an employment plan that sets out the steps you’ll need to take to find work.

The plan is developed with an Employment Assistance worker and it is based on your skills, strengths and unique circumstances.

You may be referred to WorkBC or similar programs for additional help with your job search and job training.

Single parents are also eligible for extra support and training under this benefit.

Other Benefits

Income assistance recipients also get medical services plan coverage and no-deductible Pharmacare prescription coverage.

The benefits are kept for a year after beneficiaries get a job and their income assistance payment stops.


Eligibility for BC Income Assistance

The main criteria for receiving income assistance in British Columbia is that the applicant is in need and have no other way of supporting themselves.

If you’re in urgent need of food, medical attention or shelter, out of work or can’t cover your basic needs with your income, unable to work or waiting to receive other assistance, you may be eligible to receive income assistance.

You’ll have to prove that you’ve actively searched for work for 3 weeks if you’re a new income assistance applicant or returning to income assistance. This requirement is waived for some applicant such as those with a disability, aged 65 and above, fleeing an abusive relationship and so on.

Even if you’re deemed to be ineligible for income assistance but still need help, you can apply to receive hardship assistance in some instances. Check this page on information about how to contact the Ministry.

How to Apply for Income Assistance in BC

You can apply for British Columbia income assistance using any of the 3 options below:

  1. Apply online using My Self Serve
  2. Visit one of the local offices; or
  3. Call 1-866-866-0800

As part of the application, you’ll be required to provide some information, documents and identification. These includes your social insurance number (SIN), bank account balances, ID for yourself and family, information about your rent, utilities and car payments.

Next is the work search, a period of 3 weeks during which you’re expected to look for work. You’ll be required to keep a record of your job search using a Work Search Activities form.

You can also contact your local WorkBC centre for help with your job search.

The work search requirement is waived for some categories of applicant.

If you’re still unable to find a work, then a final eligibility assessment is scheduled over the phone or in the office with a caseworker. They’ll confirm all your information, calculate how much you can receive and, if applicable, help you develop an employment plan.

Reconsideration and Appeals

In the event that you’re deemed ineligible, you can request for a reconsideration of the decision within 20 business days. Simply visit your local office or call the number above.

The relevant form will be sent to you within 48 hours. Complete it and return to the office within 20 days of the original decision. You may request for 10 days extension after submitting the form if you need to add additional documents or information.

A reconsideration decision will be made within 10 working days.

And if you still disagree with this decision, your final recourse is to make an appeal to the Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal. You’ll have 7 business days to make an appeal and should receive a decision within 10 business days.

During the reconsideration and appeal period, you may be paid some income assistance while waiting for the decision. You can keep the money if the decision is in your favour, but will have to return it if the original decision is upheld.


How much does Income Assistance Pay in BC?

Your monthly income assistance amount is determined based on your individual situation, family unit size, whether both couples are eligible for assistance if married, designation as Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) and so on.

Family unit size means the number of individuals in a family – parents plus dependent children.

A married couple with a kid where both adults receive income assistance can get up to $1,611.06 per month in financial support. Singles with no children on the other hand can only receive a maximum amount of $935 ($560 in support rate + $375 in shelter allowance.)

Unit SizeABCShelter
1$560.00$607.92$856.42$375.00
2$857.22$1,002.06$1,250.56$570.00
3$951.06$1,096.06$1,344.56$660.00
4$951.06$1,096.06$1,344.56$700.00
5$951.06$1,096.06$1,344.56$750.00
6$951.06$1,096.06$1,344.56$785.00
7$951.06$1,096.06$1,344.56$820.00

Keys:

A = Support Rate for Employable singles, couples, and two-parent families where all adults are under 65 years of age.

B = Support Rate for Singles, couples, and two-parent families where all adults meet the Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) criteria and all are under 65.

C = Support Rate for Singles, couples, and two-parent families where one adult is aged 65 years or older.

Note that support rates remain constant for family unit size 3 and above. However, the shelter rates continue to increase with small amounts. After unit size 7, shelter rates increase by $35 for each additional dependent.

You’ll be advised of how much you can get after your application is approved. But the amount may change from month to month depending on your income from other sources.

Can I Work while on Income Assistance?

You’re allowed to work while on income assistance in British Columbia. In fact, it is encouraged and one of the key requirements for getting the support is for you to look for work, if you’re able to.

And in many instances, you’ll earn more by working than staying on income assistance.

Your income assistance benefits will not automatically stop because you started working. However, the employment income beyond a certain amount will be used to access your continued eligibility for income assistance.

This table summarizes the exempt income for various categories of income assistance recipients:

CategoryMonthly Exempt Amount
All family units with a dependent child or
who are caring for a supported child
$750
A recipient in the family unit is a 
person with persistent multiple barriers
$900
Dependent child who is a full-time student$900
All other family units eligible for income assistance$500

Your income from other sources have varying effect on the income assistance. For example, Canada Child Benefit payments are exempted while Canada Pension Plan (CPP) are generally not exempt.


BC Income Assistance Increase 2021

Starting in April 2021, the Government of British Columbia increase the income and disability assistance payments by $175 across board.

Only the support rates were increased, shelter allowances remained the same.

The increases came after the temporary BC Recovery supplement that was introduced in 2020 came to an end in March 2021. Under the temporary supplement, beneficiaries received $300 per month as COVID-19 benefits in 2020, and $150 starting in January 2021.

With the new increase, a couple can now receive $1,427.22 instead of the previous amount of $1,077.22. Also, singles now receive a maximum of $935 compared to the previous $760.

Some FAQs: BC Income Assistance

How much does a single mother get on welfare in BC?

With the increase in 2021, a single mother will can receive up to $1,270.58 each month ($700.58 as support rate and $570.00 as shelter allowance) as income assistance.

Is BC income assistance going up in 2021?

The BC government announced an increase to the monthly amounts starting April, 2021. Each eligible adult now receives $175 more per month compared to the old rates.

Can I work while on income assistance in British Columbia?

Yes, income assistance recipients are encourage to look for work and accept work if they find one. In general, the first $500 net income each month is treated as exempt income and will not reduce how much you can get as income assistance.

The British Columbia Persons With Disability Benefit is another key financial assistance program from the provincial government. Check the post below to learn about about the program, its payment dates and qualification.

Related: British Columbia PWD Payment Dates and Benefits

Simon is a CPA by day and a Personal Finance Blogger by night. With over a decade experience in financial services, he's passionate about personal finance, investing and helping people take control of their financial life.

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