Income Security Policies

Sufficient income allows access to adequate housing, nutritious foods, safe communities and participation in recreational, educational and cultural opportunities as well as other essentials for a healthy life.

Inadequate income limits the security of these basic living conditions for individuals and families and that can create tremendous stress which also contributes to ill health. It also takes a substantial toll on the health of children and can establish a negative trajectory for life-long health outcomes.

BCAHL has long advocated for stronger income security measures because of the evidence connecting income and health.

British Columbians employed full time should earn enough to afford healthy basic needs including decent housing, healthy food, household amenities, childcare, clothing, transportation and recreation. BC can build a stronger system of support for families, seniors and disadvantaged groups by ensuring that income assistance rates are based on and keep pace with the actual cost of living.

BCAHL recommends the following policy options:

  • The Provincial Government ensure sufficient resourcing for TogetherBC, the provincial poverty reduction strategy.
  • BCAHL supports regular, predictable raises in the minimum wage so that work provides a path out of poverty.
  • Income assistance rates should adequately support those who are experiencing financial emergencies or face barriers to income through long-term unemployment. Moving ahead, BC can build a stronger system of support for persons with disabilities, special needs, children at risk, and seniors by ensuring income rates are based on, and keep pace with, the actual cost of living.
  • BCAHL calls on the government to follow recommendations of the ‘Expert Panel on Basic Income’ and increase Income and Disability Assistance benefits to the poverty line as determined by current Market Basket Measure thresholds in the short term. We recommend:
    • For single people in the Severe-Persistent Disability, Moderate-Persistent Disability and Temporarily Unable to Work categories, that the benefit amount be increased by $500 a month, to $20,196 annually, and
    • For couples and other family type proportionately. For couples in which both people have a disability use a scale factor of 1.41, for an annual benefit amount of $28,560.
  • BCAHL also supports increasing earning exemptions so that Income and Disability Assistance recipients can gain the benefits of employment and work experience with transitional support. In the longer term, we would ask government to consider the other recommendations from the Expert Panel on Basic Income to address some of the well-documented issues of stigmatization and access with the current system.
  • BCAHL also encourages the BC government to consider using GST credits, climate action tax credits and child benefits as targeted measures to lift people out of poverty.
  • Ensure that the Canada Child Benefit is delivered in addition to income assistance and that for low-income families, other benefits are not reduced to off-set this increase.
  • Structure marginal tax rates and benefits so that low wage earners are not penalized for working rather than relying on income assistance.
  • Adjust the Income Assistance shelter rates so they are based on reasonable market rental costs.
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