The province has announced an increase to income assistance and disability assistance, as well as the senior’s supplement.

More than 300,000 British Columbians will benefit from the income and disability assistance increase of $175 per month, the largest permanent increase since the program was introduced.

“This past year has been challenging for everyone, and especially so for those British Columbians already relying on assistance to make ends meet,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

“Now that we are seeing signs of some economic recovery from COVID-19, it’s essential we provide the stability of a permanent rate increase for people and families, including 49,000 children who live in poverty.”

For the first time since the senior’s supplement was introduced in 1987, there will be an increase of $50 per recipient, raising the maximum rate for a single person from $49.30 to $99.30 per month, supporting about 80,000 seniors across the province.

People who live in special care facilities and receive income assistance will have their comforts allowance increased by $20 to $115 per month. The comfort allowance allows people to buy basic personal items and was last increased in 2005.

“This increase – the largest that people on income assistance and disability assistance have seen – is a critical piece in working toward the fulfilment of our province’s poverty reduction goals,” said Doug King, executive director, Together Against Poverty Society.

“The permanent nature of the increase is critical in allowing those on income assistance and disability assistance to be able to rely on this support in the long term.”

The increases will be automatically applied, and are estimated to cost the province about $400 million per year moving forward.