Income assistance on reserve

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Income assistance on reserve

If you don't have enough money for food, clothing, and shelter, income assistance can help you. Income assistance is money and other benefits. It includes regular monthly benefits, Persons with Disabilities benefits, Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers benefits, and hardship assistance.

If you don't have enough money for food, clothing, and shelter, apply for income assistance immediately. There are people in your community who can help you and your family.

You don't have to be Aboriginal in order to get income assistance. Anyone who lives on reserve can get income assistance, even if they're not Aboriginal.

If this is an emergency

If this is an emergency
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If you don't have enough money for food, clothing, or shelter, get help right away. Don't wait until you have no money left, you've sold your belongings, or you lose your home. You can:

  • apply for income assistance immediately,
  • call 211, and
  • find an advocate.

Apply for income assistance immediately

Call your band social development worker to apply for income assistance immediately. You can reach them by calling the band office for the reserve you live on, and making an appointment.

If you don't know how to contact your band office, call Indigenous Services Canada (sometimes called ISC) at:

1-800-665-9320

They can give you the contact information you need, and can also answer questions you may have about available benefits.

Apply for a BC Hydro grant

If you don’t have enough money to pay your BC Hydro bill, you can apply for a grant from their Customer Crisis Fund to help you pay what you owe.

Who can apply

To apply for a BC Hydro grant, you must be a BC Hydro customer who:

  • has a temporary financial emergency,
  • is behind on payments,
  • owes less than $1000, and
  • may be facing having your power disconnected.

You can apply for a grant once a year.

How you apply

To apply for a grant, you can:

Online applications are processed the fastest. BC Hydro won’t disconnect your power while they look at your application.

If you need help with your online application, call BC211 at 1-844-708-3208 or visit a community service organization in your area.

See the BC Hydro website for more information.

Call 211

BC211 is an information and referral service. It's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When you call, the person you speak to can tell you about helpful services in your community.

BC211 is only available to Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and Squamish-Lillooet. If you don't live in these areas, find an advocate to help you.

Find an advocate

An advocate can help you. Someone from your band office can help you find the services you need. PovNet also has links to groups that deal with issues like income assistance and housing.

What is income assistance?

What is income assistance?
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Income assistance is money and other benefits for people who:

  • live on reserve,
  • don't have enough money to meet their needs, and
  • have no other reasonable way of getting money.

Income assistance is sometimes called welfare or social assistance.

 

Income assistance are monthly benefits that include: 

  • basic income assistance benefits,
  • Persons with Disabilities benefits (often called PWD benefits),
  • Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers benefits (often called PPMB benefits),
  • hardship assistance, and
  • other benefits. 

Each benefit has different conditions. Your situation needs to meet the conditions of the benefit you are applying for. So, you may be able to get some benefits and not others. 

 

For each benefit, your social development worker will look at your assets and income. You won't be able to get benefits if:

  • your assets are worth too much,
  • your monthly income is too high, or
  • you get rid of assets to make yourself eligible for income assistance.

 

How much you get for each benefit depends on your circumstances and how many people are in your family unit

 

You don't have to be Aboriginal in order to get income assistance. Anyone who lives on reserve can get income assistance, even if they're not Aboriginal.
 

How do you qualify for income assistance?

How do you qualify for income assistance?
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To get income assistance benefits, you must be an adult (19 or over). And you must live on reserve in BC.

 

You must also be:

  • a Canadian citizen,
  • a permanent resident,
  • a protected person (Convention refugee, or person in need of protection),
  • a sponsored immigrant whose sponsor can't or won't provide support, or
  • a refugee claimant. 

 

Your social development worker will also look at your assets and income.

 

How you apply for income assistance

You can apply for income assistance with the band social development worker for the reserve you live on.

You can reach them by calling the band office for your reserve.

 

How much you get each month: Income assistance amounts
Family Size Shelter allowance maximum  Support (basic needs) allowance Total payment 
If you're single       
Employable person under 65 $375.00 $385.00  $760.00
Single person 65+ $375.00 $681.42 $1,056.42
If you're a single parent       
Employable single parent under 65, and one child  $570.00 $525.58 $1,095.58
Single parent 65+, and one child $570.00 $822.08 $1,392.08
If you and your spouse don't have children      
Employable couple under 65 $570.00 $507.22 $1,077.22
Couple, both 65+ $570.00 $1,149.06 $1,719.06
Couple, 1 person under 65, 1 person 65+ $570.00 $900.56 $1,470.56
If you and your spouse have children      
Employable couple under 65, and 1 child  $660.00 $601.06 $1,261.06

The basic needs (support) allowance doesn't increase if you have more than one child.
These rates are current as of April 2019.
 

If you are cut off of or denied benefits:

There are several reasons why your worker might decline or cut off your benefits. For example:

  • If you quit a job without a good reason
  • If you were fired from a job because of something you did
  • If you turned down a job you could do

You might still be able to get hardship assistance. 
 

If you don't agree with your worker's decision, you can appeal. See our booklet below for steps you can take. 

What are Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefits?

What are Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefits?
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Persons with Disabilities benefits are often called PWD benefits. These are monthly benefits for people with certain types of physical or mental disabilities. These benefits help people who can't work or can’t find work because of their disability.

Families on PWD benefits get a higher basic needs (support) allowance.

How you qualify for PWD benefits

You may be able to get PWD benefits if you live in BC and you:

  • are 18 years of age or older, AND
  • have a severe mental or physical disability that:
  • a doctor confirms will last for two years or longer, AND
  • a prescribed health professional says directly and significantly limits your ability to do daily activities.

Your social development worker will also look at your assets and your income.

How you apply for PWD benefits

Applying for PWD benefits can be difficult. It's a good idea to talk to an advocate before starting your application.

You need to get a Persons with Disabilities Designation Application. Your social development worker can give you this form. They can also give you information on how to complete it. Your worker will sign the cover page. Applications without this signature won't be processed.

How much you get each month: PWD assistance amounts

Family Size Shelter allowance maximum  Support (basic needs) allowance Total payment 
Single person $375.00 $808.42 $1,183.42
If you're a single parent       
Single parent on PWD and 1 child  $570.00 $949.08 $1,519.08
Single parent on PWD and 2 children $660.00 $949.08 $1,609.08
If you and your spouse don't have children      
Couple, 1 on PWD $570.00 $1,027.56 $1,597.56
Couple, both on PWD $570.00 $1,503.06 $2,073.06
Couple, 1 on PWD, the other 65+ $570.00 $1,276.06 $1,846.06
If you and your spouse have children      
Couple, both on PWD and 1 child $660.00 $1,597.06

$2,257.06

Couple, 1 on PWD, the other 65+, and 1 child  $660.00 $1,370.06 $2,030.06

The basic needs (support) allowance doesn't increase if you have more than one child. 
These rates are current as of April 2019.

If you're denied or cut off of your benefits: 

You might still be able to get hardship assistance or other benefits. If you don't agree with your worker's decision, you can appeal (see our booklet Income Assistance on Reserve in BC).

What are Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) benefits?

What are Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) benefits?
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Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers benefits are often called PPMB benefits.

These are benefits for people who have a medical condition that seriously affects their ability to find or keep a job.


PPMB benefits are a temporary (short-term) benefit. They're approved for up to two years at a time.

If you get PPMB benefits, you don't have to look for work.

How you qualify for PPMB

You may be able to get PPMB benefits if:

  • you've been on income assistance (on or off reserve) for 12 out of the last 15 months; AND
  • you have a medical condition (other than an addiction) that:
    • seriously affects your ability to look for, take, or keep a job; AND
    • has lasted for at least a year and will likely last for two more years; OR
    • has been a problem regularly for the last year and will likely continue for the next two years.

Your social development worker will also look at your assets and your income.

How you apply for PPMB

If you think you may be able to get PPMB benefits, contact your worker. Your worker will probably want to meet with you to talk about your medical condition and the PPMB conditions. Your worker will then give you a medical report form.

Your doctor must complete this form. Make sure to tell your doctor how your condition stops you from looking for or taking a job.

When your doctor has completed the form, take it to your worker. Your worker will review it and decide if you can get PPMB benefits.

How much you get each month: PPMB amounts
Family Size Shelter allowance maximum  Support (basic needs) allowance Total payment 
If you're single       
Employable person under 65 and on PPMB $375.00 $432.93 $807.92
If you're a single parent       
Single parent on PPMB and 1 child  $570.00 $573.58 $1,143.58
If you and your spouse don't have children      
Couple, both under 65 and on PPMB $570.00 $652.06 $1,222.06
If you and your spouse have children      
Couple, both on PPMB, and one child  $660.00 $746.06 $1,406.06

The basic needs (support) allowance doesn't increase if you have more than one child. These rates are current as of April 2019.

If you're turned down for or cut off of your PPMB benefits
You might still be able to get hardship assistance. If you don't agree with your worker's decision, you can appeal (see our booklet Income Assistance on Reserve in BC).

What is hardship assistance? Do I qualify?

What is hardship assistance? Do I qualify?
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Hardship assistance only covers basic needs such as food and shelter. It's for people who will suffer undue hardship (such as hunger or eviction) because they can't get other benefits.

Hardship assistance is only meant to be short-term. In most cases, hardship benefits are limited to three months in a row.

How you qualify for hardship assistance

To get hardship assistance, you must:

  • be unable to get other monthly benefits, and
  • live on reserve when you apply,
  • have no other source of money, and
  • be facing undue hardship if you don't get financial help.

 

For example, you may be able to get hardship assistance if you're:

  • waiting for a Social Insurance Number or other documentation,
  • waiting for money from other sources (such as Employment Insurance), or
  • on strike or locked out.

 

You must also be:

  • a Canadian citizen,
  • a permanent resident,
  • a protected person (Convention refugee, or person in need of protection),
  • a sponsored immigrant whose sponsor can't or won't provide support, or
  • a refugee claimant.

 

Your social development worker will also look at your assets and your income.

How you apply for hardship assistance 

Apply for hardship assistance with the social development worker for the reserve you live on. Apply as soon as you need financial help that you can't get somewhere else.

You must reapply each month that you need it.

How much you get each month: Hardship assistance amounts

Family Size Shelter allowance maximum  Support (basic needs) allowance Total payment
If you're single      
Single person under 65 $375.00 $385.00 $760.00
Single person on PPMB $375.00 $432.92 $807.92
Single person 65 or over, or on PWD $375.00 $681.42 $1,056.42
If you're a single parent       
Single parent under 65, and 1 child  $570.00 $525.58 $1,095.58
Single parent on PPMB $570.00 $573.58 $1,143.58
Single parent 65 or over, and 1 child $570.00 $822.08 $1,392.08
If you and your spouse don't have children      
Couple, both under 65 $570.00 $507.22 $1,077.22
Couple, both under 65, both on PPMB $570.00 $652.06 $1,222.06
Couple, 1 person 65+, or on PWD $570.00 $900.56 $1,470.56
Couple, 1 on PPMB $570.00 $596.22 $1,166.22
Couple, both on PWD $570.00 $1,503.06 $2,073.06
If you and your spouse have children      
Couple, both under 65, and 1 child $660.00 $601.06 $1,201.06
Couple, 1 65 or over, other on PWD $660.00 $1,276.06 $1,936.06
Couple, both on PWD, and 1 child $660.00 $1,597.06 $2,257.06
Couple, 1 on PPMB, and 1 child $660.00 $690.06 $1,350.06
Couple, both on PPMB, and 1 child $660.00 $746.06 $1,406.06

The basic needs (support) allowance doesn't increase if you have more than one child. These rates are current as of April 2019.

When you have to pay back hardship assistance

When you have to pay back hardship assistance
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You may have to sign an agreement to pay back your hardship assistance.

For example, if you expect to get money from another source in a few weeks, you'll be expected to pay back the hardship assistance when that money arrives.

 

Sometimes you don't have to pay back hardship assistance.

 

You should not have to pay back hardship assistance if:

  • you're a survivor of family violence and trying to get assets or support would likely put you in danger,
  • you're on strike or locked out,
  • you don't have proper ID to get income assistance, or
  • your sponsorship agreement broke down.

 

Ask your worker if you'll have to pay back your hardship assistance.

If you're turned down for or cut off of your hardship assistance benefits

If your worker turns you down for hardship assistance or requires you to pay back money you don't believe you should have to pay back, you can appeal. You can also file a complaint. 
 

How to get assistance with funeral costs

How to get assistance with funeral costs
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You may be able to get assistance with funeral costs. Funeral costs do not include non-status costs or additional allowances if you are not eligible for income assistance or hardship assistance. For more information, see Income Assistance National Program Guidelines 2018–2019 on the ISC website.

Funeral costs: What's covered
Funeral item Funeral cost
Funeral provider's basic Up to $1,285.00
Other items or services Up to $815.00
Transportation

Km 0 to 32 in basic service

Km 33 to 82 is $1.00/km

Km 83 to 182 is $0.90/km

Km above 182 is $0.60/km

Cost of urn Up to $200.00
Casket

Equivalent to Imperial #2 HP

cloth-covered casket + merchandising 20%

mark up + cost of freight

 

Get help

Disability Alliance BC — Information for people living with disabilities in British Columbia 

Government of British Columbia — Information on income assistance, how to apply, and available services 

PovNet — Information about poverty issues and links to organizations that can help

More help

More help
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BC Association of Friendship Centres — Find a friendship centre in your area

BC211 — Free confidential referrals to help and information — Call 211

Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation — See their Guide to Indigenous Organizations and Services in British Columbia for organizations that can help

Access Pro Bono Law Clinics — Free legal help

Carole James, MLA, Community Office — Free legal clinic — Call 250-412-7794

Department of Justice Community-based Justice Programs — Alternatives to mainstream justice processes

First Nations and Métis Outreach Program (The Law Centre) — Free legal help — Victoria

Native Courtworkers and Counselling Association of BC— Culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal people involved in the criminal justice system — Call 604-985-5355 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-877-811-1190 (no charge outside Greater Vancouver)

Bella Coola Legal Advocacy Program — Free legal help — Bella Coola

UBC Indigenous Community Legal Clinic — Free legal help on various legal matters — 604-684-7334 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-888-684-7334 (call no charge)

Upper Skeena Counselling & Legal Assistance Society — Free legal help — Hazelton

Victoria Native Friendship Centre — Free legal clinic — Call 250-412-7794