This week Premier Christy Clark announced some new benefits to assist vulnerable families. Many of these changes will benefit children in vulnerable families including a school start up credit and also access to basic dental services for those children with parents in hardship situations. Income tax refunds for those on income assistance will also no longer be clawed back as was the case previously.
For those on disability assistance the income earnings exemption has again been increased and will now be raised to $800 per month and income calculations can be based annually instead of monthly. This change reflects fairness for those on income assistance who are only able to work during certain times of a calendar year.
Another new change will be a modest $200 income earnings exemption for those on income assistance in the expected to work category. However the work search requirement will be extended from the current three weeks to five weeks.
These changes are intended to help encouragement employment and also to be able to promote short term work or small temporary jobs without what is often viewed as a financial disincentive. Even small and temporary jobs sometimes lead to either permanent part time or full time employment. Other changes have also been implemented with respect to asset retention rules and income tax filings. For more information please contact my office directly or visit the BC government website.
Another new service recently announced is a senior’s health care support line. As health care services have consistently been expanded over the past ten years there can be challenges in identifying and accessing a particular service, and more so for seniors who may lack the ability to research services online. The senior’s health support line will be accessible from Monday to Friday between the hours 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If a senior you know is having care health related cares concerns or questions please do not hesitate to call toll free 1 877 952-3181.
I can also pass on that British Columbia has recently announced a personal import exemption policy for BC residents when visiting other provinces. This new exemption policy means that a BC resident can now bring back up to one case of wine, four bottles of spirits, and a combined total of six dozen beer, cider and coolers from other province back into BC so long as the use is for personal consumption.
Previously these types of importations were illegal based on a Federal law that Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas has been working to see changed in Ottawa. Assuming these changes are passed into law at the Federal level these new regulations will benefit British Columbians when visiting other Provinces. It is my understanding that Alberta has already introduced similar legislation that allows for BC wine to be enjoyed by Albertan’s.
Lastly this week a special note of congratulations to our many graduating Grade 12 students. Please enjoy this special time of your lives responsibly and never be afraid to pursue your dreams and ambitions. Also a thank you to parents and teachers alike for your efforts in grooming our future leaders.