Q&A — Welfare and benefits

COVID-19 Info Q&A Welfare
The date of the most recent update on a subject is shown in [square brackets]. 

During COVID-19, the federal and provincial governments are providing emergency financial help for people on income assistance or disability assistance and seniors with low incomes.

You can apply to the BC Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to get welfare. Depending on your situation, you might qualify for disability assistance with the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation or the Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) designation.

You have to meet certain criteria to qualify and you have to fill out an application form that applies to your situation. A health professional also has to fill out part of your application form.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry has made these application forms available online. You don't have to go to a ministry office to get the form. See the ministry website for the online PWD Application Form (24 pages) and PPMB Application Form (6 pages).

The application forms include:

  • what you have to do to qualify for the designation
  • instructions to fill out the form
  • ministry address and fax number to submit the completed form

Disability Alliance BC has online help sheets that explain various benefits and programs for people with disabilities. See the PWD Application help sheet and the PPMB Benefit help sheet for help to fill out the application forms. Monthly disability assistance rates went up by $175 in April 2021.

For more information about the PWD or PPMB designation, phone the ministry at 1-866-866-0800.

If you get any of the following benefits, phone the ministry at 1-866-866-0800 to ask for the shorter PWD application form:
  • Community Living BC (CLBC)
  • Ministry of Children and Family Development At Home Program
  • BC PharmaCare Plan P — Palliative Care Benefits
  • Canada Pension Plan — Disability Benefits

You don’t have to fill out the 24-page PWD designation application and get a new diagnosis.

A ministry worker can help answer your questions. While you can go into a ministry office, you can get income assistance information in other ways during COVID-19. Here's what the ministry website says.

If you have trouble getting the information you need, talk to an advocate (community worker trained to help people). To find an advocate experienced in helping with welfare problems, see the Get more help information box on this Q&A page.

Monthly income assistance rates went up by $175 in April 2021.

  • Monthly disability assistance rates went up by $175 in April 2021.
  • BC’s senior’s supplement for low-income seniors also went up $50 monthly per person in April 2021.
  • Employment Insurance and federal pandemic relief benefits are no longer being deducted from welfare payments.

Don't see your question here? Email us.

Page last updated: January 31, 2022

Get more help

These organizations provide free help for people on welfare or with low incomes. Their websites include where to find more help during the pandemic.

BC211 — Information and confidential referrals to get help in your community

Disability Alliance BC — Help for people with disabilities, including free self-help guides about BC’s disability benefits and programs

Povnet — Information about poverty issues, including a Find an Advocate map of advocacy groups throughout BC

Seniors First BC — Legal advice, advocacy, and representation for adults age 55 and up with legal issues involving tenancy, debt, and government benefits

Updated on : January 2022