BC government continues keeping persons on PWD (disability benefits) living in abject poverty by clawing back their other income

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CPP, CPP-D, employment insurance (EI), workers compensation, veterans benefits, survivor benefits, and other non-exempt income, insurance and pensions are all clawed back from the BC provincial PWD (disability) benefits with the effect of leaving them still just as poor and without. (Maternity and parental leave EI clawbacks ended on October 1, 2016. This came by pressure and a legal battle.) Furthermore, if any of these receive a cost of living increase, that gets clawed back too. [For your information, persons living on provincial disability receive $983.42/month for a single person (which became effective on September 1, 2016) which is up from $906.42/month – the first raise since 2007. However, the annual $45 bus pass and special transportation subsidy for persons on provincial disability were eliminated. $52 of the $77 increase is now called a transportation allowance and persons on provincial disability can choose to buy a $52/month bus pass through the Ministry.]
It is not an issue about people taking advantage of the system, but being penalized for working and contributing and believing that there was a safety net when they needed it. For example, Ontario, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland and Labrador have ended or never had policies requiring seniors with disabilities to take early CPP. It is viewed as going against our Charter of Human Rights. New Brunswick’s WCB in 2012 lost in court when it was deemed illegal for them to clawback CPP from WCB claimants.
Why are these clawbacks allowed to continue in British Columbia?
The BC provincial government has a capricious and nonsensical system when it comes to serving its clients who are on provincial PWD benefits. For example, people who will have annuities coming from the Registered Disabilities Savings Plans (RDSPs) in the future will be allowed to keep those monthly payouts without their provincial PWD (disability) benefits being clawed back once the person reaches 60 years of age (or if they choose to do so at a later date) yet those who turn 60 are forced to take out early CPP (if eligible) by the Province which all gets clawed back by the Province. The province promotes these RDSPs yet refuses to see that the CPP is a similar retirement/old age savings plan. It does not make any sense.
So many people are ignorant about disability issues and believe that people with disabilities are whiners, scroungers, and suffer from a sense of entitlement. People with disabilities are easier to kick, because many are already down and do not have much of a voice or influence. That is why many do not speak out to the media or complain publicly when they are suffering or are being treated unfairly. As supposedly compassionate citizens, we all enter into a social contract where we provide resources to those in need even though we may never need them (or may need them one day). For example, we pay into the school system even if we may not have children, but it is in our best interest to have an educated workforce that will provide well for the community and for future generations. We pay into the health and welfare system to support others and if one day, we may need it.
These PWD income clawbacks are similar to the recent BC government’s decision to allow single parents on welfare and disability to keep their child support. This came about because of mass effort, public pressure, and the public being more able to relate to the issue to see that it was not fair – plus children were involved (child poverty – not good for optics if you do not help them). It could have been a strategic decision to allow single parents to keep their child support out of fear that it would cost the party in power votes, as so many voters were impacted by the child support clawbacks.
Many people, on the other hand, have more difficulty understanding the the PWD clawback on disability argument, because they do not care, are indifferent or not affected by it, or cannot relate to it – even though it is similar to the single parents argument. That is, it is asking to keep something that rightfully belongs to the person with a disability, and that it should not be clawed back or misused as it almost guarantees that the person will remain in poverty and suffer. As a result, it is a greater challenge to effect change, as there is less of widespread demographic public outcry to support persons with disabilities. Therefore, the party that is in power who plays for votes before principle would be less likely to adequately support persons with disabilities.
Finally, how does this provincial government justify such clawback rules when it has a 10-year action plan (Accessibility 2024) for making BC the most progressive province for people with disabilities to live when other jurisdictions are more progressive in this area?
We have posted a few stories about this within the last year or so. Here are some of them.
Disabled widower files human rights complaint against B.C. government – November 1, 2016
“Under current social policy, the BC Liberals say that because I am disabled and already on PWD Social Assistance, I don’t deserve these additional death benefit monies.
Because I am disabled, I’m not entitled to my wife’s well-earned CPP privileges or the extra financial support they are expressly meant to provide for.
Because I am disabled, I’m a third-class citizen.” http://polibuzz.com/disabled-widowe…
B.C. families on income assistance get to keep EI maternity benefits – British Columbia – CBC News -September 28, 2016 “But a Sooke family, Jess and Tony Alford, launched a human rights complaint last May, arguing the rules effectively discriminated against low income women with children. Their lawyer said Wednesday the family’s case was resolved before going to a hearing and the couple has received a cash settlement from the government.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/briti… Maternity and parental leave benefits exempted for people on assistance | BC Gov News -September 27, 2016 https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/201… Liberals end cruel benefit clawback policies on families | The Nelson Daily -September 28, 2016 http://thenelsondaily.com/news/libe… B.C. scraps benefits clawback that sparked rights battle – September 27, 2016 http://www.timescolonist.com/news/l… Government to eliminate maternity clawback | Vancouver Sun – September 27, 2016 http://vancouversun.com/news/politi… Maternity and parental leave benefits exempted for people on assistance; NDP claims it`s because of their pressure | Indo-Canadian Voice Newspaper -September 27, 2016 http://www.voiceonline.com/maternit…
Stop the clawbacks for people on disability benefits http://vancouversun.com/opinion/col…
Woman on disability income says she was forced to take early pension http://www.timescolonist.com/news/l…
Provincial clawbacks relegate the disabled to life of poverty http://vancouversun.com/opinion/col…
Nanaimo man asks B.C. to end clawback – Nanaimo News Bulletin http://www.nanaimobulletin.com/news…
Maternity EI, disability assistance clawback hurting B.C. family http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/briti…
Maternity pay clawback leaves Maple Ridge family in a bind http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Ma…
Sooke Family Files Human Rights Complaint over Maternity Benefits Clawback | The Tyee http://thetyee.ca/News/2016/05/16/S…
B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to hear case on maternity EI and disability clawbacks http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/briti…
BC Government headed to the courtroom over parental leave cuts http://www.news1130.com/2016/05/16/…
Stephen Hume: Provincial clawbacks relegate the disabled to life of poverty http://vancouversun.com/opinion/col…
Stephen Hume: Province marginalizes the disabled further through economic policy http://vancouversun.com/opinion/col…
Stephen Hume: Disabled woman faces government threats, nightmarish process over three cents interest http://vancouversun.com/news/local-…
Stephen Hume: Province claws back wife’s death benefits from ‘Daddy Bent-Legs’ http://vancouversun.com/opinion/col…
Here is a December 2015 radio interview with a widowed single parent on PWD who inherited CPP death benefits monies. Every month, all the death benefits gets clawed back by the BC government. This is simply because he is on PWD. More than $20,000 has been clawed back by the BC government since his wife passed away in 2013. http://www.daddybentlegs.com/upload…
More than 160 organizations write to Premier Christy Clark opposing changes to bus passes for people with disabilities. http://www.straight.com/news/703596…
Two Meals a Day: Living on Disability Assistance in Vancouver http://thetyee.ca/News/2016/06/13/L…
Friday Fail File Special Edition:The disability bus pass clawback debacle http://lailayuile.com/2016/07/08/fr…
Clawback of mat leave pay ‘discriminatory,’ says Chilliwack woman – Chilliwack Progress http://www.theprogress.com/news/386…
Mornings with Kirk Lapointe – Neil Matheson (July 22, 2016), Roundhouse Radio 98.3 Vancouver: Kirk speaks with Neil Matheson, a blogger, author and a single father with a disability, who’s benefits have recently been clawed back. http://cirh.streamon.fm/listenlater…
Liberals’ disability double-dealing is disappointing https://www.biv.com/article/2016/6/…
BC’s Profound Moral Failure on Disability Rates:On Sept. 1, a tiny increase coupled with bus pass clawbacks will shame us all. http://www.thetyee.ca/Opinion/2016/…
Government policies mean legislated poverty http://www.timescolonist.com/opinio…
Stephen Hume: Social assistance deduction discriminates against disabled | Vancouver Sun -Sept. 20/16 http://vancouversun.com/opinion/col…
B.C. government must move to lift its disabled citizens out of poverty | Vancouver Sun – November 25/16 http://vancouversun.com/news/local-…
Published by The BC Disability Caucus
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