Almost 1,000 former income assistance recipients are still owed money nine months after an investigation found their income exemptions were unlawfully suspended, B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke reported Thursday.
Chalke disclosed in May 2018 that the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction was unlawfully applying a one-month waiting period for the earnings exemption granted to people on welfare. The error applied to about 2,600 people, who were denied payments totalling $658,000, and 1,000 of them still haven’t been repaid, Chalke said in a follow-up report.
“I was extremely concerned when we made these initial findings,” Chalke said. “When government supports society’s most vulnerable citizens it is critical that benefits that can make a difference to making rent, caring for children or paying for basic transportation are administered properly.”
Ministry policy has been changed to end the practice of suspending the earnings exemption, but as of this week some of the recipients are still owed payments totalling $225,000.