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.
- Federal programs include Employment Insurance (EI) and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). CERB has now ended, but retroactive applications are accepted and processed for the period August 30 to September 26, 2020. If you continue to need income support, see the government information about transitioning to new benefits after CERB.
- Emergency help from the BC government includes a $300 monthly supplement for people on income assistance or disability assistance who don’t get EI or CERB. See the COVID-19 Support for Income & Disability Assistance on the BC government website for more information.
- See also COVID-19 Provincial and Federal Benefits on the BC government website.
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.
- 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.
Page last updated: January 31, 2022
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