Province of British Columbia - News Release
Handicapped Status to be Redefined
Ministry of Social Services
1995:34 - May 26, 1995
Last Update: 09.01.1997
VICTORIA -- Proposed changes to eligibility criteria for the handicapped benefits program, under the Guaranteed
Available Income for Need Act, would enable persons with disabilities to take their places in the mainstream of society,
Social Services Minister Joy MacPhail said today.
"The definition of handicapped used by the ministly has not changed for 20 years," said the minister.
"Current policies discourage employment and economic independence by forcing people with disabilities to
declare themselves pelmanently unemployable."
By redefining handicapped status to stress the duration, rather than the permanence, of a person's disability, the ministry
recognizes the episodic nature of many disabling conditions and the employment potential of those with physical or
The ministly also recognizes the need to separate the administration of handicapped benefits from that of income
assistance and will review other service delivery models.
"I have called for a joint cornmunity/govemment advisory committee whose mandate is to recommend options for
delivery of an effective, accountable and affordable benefits program for disabled British Columbians,"
Representatives from the AD Hoc '95 coalition, whose organizational mission is to advocate for fundamental reform of
income support systems for people with disabilities, say this is an important first step. The three organizations, the B.C.
Association for Cornmunity Living, B.C. Coalition of People witi, Disabilities and the Canadian Mental Health Association - B.C.
Division, will continue to work towards enabling persons with disabilities to achieve greater independence in their cornmunity.
Government is committed to helping persons with disabilities achieve greater independence through training and
employment opportunities offered by the Ministry of Skills, Training and Labour. For example, this year, the public service
training program will fund as many as 125 training opportunities in govemment ministries and Crown corporations for persons
with disabilities. Other programs, under Skills Now, are increasing post secondary access for students with disabilities
and expanding vocational rehabilitation programs in communities across the province.
There are currently 26,000 people in receipt of handicapped benefits at a cost of nearly $200 million a year. It is
estimated that an additional 3,000 people could qualify for handicapped benefits as a result of the proposed changes.
Eligibility for income support will continue to depend on medical assessment of the condition, in addition to
income and asset tests.
The benefit rate for a single person is $771/month. Income assistance clients designated as handicapped also
receive basic MSP coverage and additional benefíts including:
- drugs and supplies covered by Pharmacare when prescribed by a doctor;
- basic dental and dentures; and
- glasses and some other optical devices.
(604) 387-6485 (Victoria)
B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities
Judy Carter - Smith
BC Association for Community Living
Canadian Mental Health Association