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 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
  • find an advocate

Apply for income assistance immediately

Call your band office and make an appointment with your band social development worker to apply for income assistance immediately.

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. They 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
  • might 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 go to 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 every day. 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

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's income assistance?

What's 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
  • have no other reasonable way of getting money

Income assistance is sometimes called welfare or social assistance.

The types of income assistance are:

  • monthly benefits
  • Persons with Disabilities benefits (often called PWD benefits)
  • Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers benefits (often called PPMB benefits)
  • hardship assistance
  • other benefits

Each type of income assistance has different conditions. Your situation needs to meet the conditions of the income assistance you apply for. You might qualify for some benefits and not for others.

For each type of assistance, your social development worker looks at your assets and income. You won't be able to get assistance if:

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

How much income assistance you get depends on your circumstances and how many people are in your family unit.

You don't have to be Aboriginal to get income assistance. Anyone who lives on reserve can get income assistance if they qualify, 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're turned down or cut off of your benefits

There are several reasons why you might be turned down or cut off of 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, Income Assistance on Reserve in British Columbia, 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 might 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 fill it out. Your worker signs the cover page. Applications without their signature aren't 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 turned down 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 British Columbia, for steps you can take.

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 might be able to get PPMB benefits if:

  • you've been on income assistance (on reserve 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 benefits

If you think you might qualify for 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 then gives you a medical report form.

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

When your doctor has filled out the form, take it to your worker. Your worker reviews it and decides if you can get PPMB benefits.

How much you get each month: PPMB benefits 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 British Columbia, for steps to take.

What's hardship assistance?

What's hardship assistance?
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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 meant to be short-term. In most cases, hardship assistance is 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
  • live on reserve when you apply
  • have no other source of money
  • be facing undue hardship if you don't get financial help

For example, you might qualify for hardship assistance if you're:

  • waiting for a Social Insurance Number or other documentation
  • waiting for money from other sources (such as Employment Insurance)
  • 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 [define:]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 might 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're expected to pay back the hardship assistance when you get that money.

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

You shouldn't 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
  • your sponsorship agreement broke down

Ask your worker if you 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 says you have to pay back money you believe you shouldn't have to pay back, you can appeal. You can also file a complaint. See our booklet, Income Assistance on Reserve in British Columbia, for steps you can take.

How to get assistance with funeral costs

How to get assistance with funeral costs
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You might be able to get assistance with funeral costs. Funeral costs don't include non-status costs or additional allowances if you don't qualify 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

Lawyer Referral Service — Helps you find a lawyer to take your case — Call 604-687-3221 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-800-663-1919 (elsewhere in BC)

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, University of Victoria) — 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 (elsewhere in BC)

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

UBC Indigenous Community Legal Clinic — Free legal help on various legal matters — Call 604-684-7334 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-888-684-7334 (elsewhere in BC)

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

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