B.C. introduces bus pass supplements for people on disability assistance
New $52 supplement will be added to monthly assistance payments
British Columbia is providing a new payment to more than 110,000 people who receive disability assistance to help with their transportation needs.
The transportation supplement is worth $52 a month and will be added to monthly assistance payments, starting with the Dec. 20 payment.
Social Development Minister Shane Simpson says the monthly payments fix changes to the system introduced by the previous Liberal government.
Disability groups complained when the Liberal policy left them paying for their own bus passes after it increased monthly assistance rates by $77.
Simpson says the new $52 supplement will not be deducted from the monthly payments and it will cost the province about $70 million annually.
Faith Bodnar, executive director of Inclusion B.C., says the changes are significant because it will allow people to make their own choices about transportation.
The funding can be used to purchase a bus pass or to pay for other modes of transportation like HandyDART or a ride with a neighbour.
"Not all communities have public transportation and that makes it much more of a fair and just benefit," Bodnar said. "It's also an important symbol because it says that people with disabilities on benefits have a right to get around their communities and choose how they want to do it."
The province's minority NDP government recently increased monthly disability payments by $100 to $1,133, while earnings exemptions were increased by $200 a month.
With files from The Early Edition.