Although many view the beginning of October as the end of summer and start of fall, this year it will also serve as the month that a number of changes to Income and Disability assistance will take effect on October 1.
Some of these changes include a new $200 monthly income earnings exemption for those citizens currently receiving income assistance in the expected to work category. In the past if a social assistance client who was considered employable earned extra funds from small or part time jobs this income would be deducted dollar for dollar from monthly benefits.
Under the new guidelines an employable person in this classification can earn additional monies up to $200 a month without a corresponding deduction in monthly benefits. For citizens currently on a disability, the income earnings exemption threshold has also been increased up to $800 per month.
Another recent change is that income tax refunds will no longer result in social assistance benefits being deducted by a similar amount thus ensuring that a family or individual can fully benefit from an income tax refund without monthly benefits being impacted.
As part of this new policy, beginning in the spring of 2013 income tax filing will be a mandatory requirement for those on income and disability assistance. This will help to ensure that low income individuals and families receive all of the tax credit benefits they are entitled too.
For citizens on disability benefits, annual earning exemptions will also be introduced that will allow for exempt income earned to be considered on a yearly basis instead of monthly. This change will assist those on disability benefits who do work on a seasonal or temporary basis. For more information on these changes please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Another new law that has come into effect is the Criminal Asset Management Act. This new law will enhance and streamline the process involved in disposing of assets that are seized under proceeds of crime legislation.
The proceeds obtained from the sale of forfeited assets can be used to assist eligible victims of crime and also to help community initiatives such as support for crime prevention and remediation projects in our local municipalities. For more information please visit the http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/civilforfeiture/ website.
Finally this week a few reminders. As it is currently bear hibernation season residents near rural areas should take extra precaution to be aware that fresh or spoiled fruit, exposed pet food, improperly stored garbage, dirty barbecues and easily accessible compost can all attract bears to your residence. It has been established that when bears come into contact with non natural food sources that non lethal conflict resolution options become less effective. For more information please visit the www.bearaware.bc.ca website and a reminder that bear sightings can be reported to the BC Conservation service at 1 877 952-7277.
On another note I would also like to remind motorists to pull over by the side of the road if you observe emergency vehicles approaching. Your prompt attention can greatly assist our first responders in arriving safely to their destination.