bc govt newsWednesday, December 3, 2014 3:00 PM

VICTORIA – The Province is recognizing the unique circumstances of people with disabilities by making it easier for those receiving disability assistance to earn more money with annualized earnings exemptions.

Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Don McRae made the announcement today while marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Starting in January 2015, B.C. will become the first province in Canada to ensure people receiving disability assistance will be able to calculate their earnings on an annual basis instead of monthly, reducing barriers to employment.

This supports Accessibility 2024, government’s 10-year plan to make B.C. the most progressive place for people with disabilities in Canada. It also supports government’s goal of having the highest labour force participation rate for people with disabilities in Canada by 2024.

Annualized earnings exemptions are particularly helpful for people with disabilities whose ability to earn fluctuates during the year. For example, if a person earns more than $800 in a month, they can keep all of that money up to $9,600 for the year. There is no monthly maximum.

The new annualized earnings exemption is the result of a successful pilot project, which was introduced to 1,500 people in 2013. About 900 of these people accepted work shifts that they would otherwise have turned down, earned more money and described the change as an incentive to work.

Earnings exemptions are in addition to monthly disability assistance and other supports, such as: discounted bus passes, free MSP, medical supplies, dental and optical care and employment services through the Employment Program of BC.

The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation worked with Disability Alliance BC (formerly called the B.C. Coalition for People with Disabilities) to gather public feedback to help shape the new annualized earnings exemptions policy.

Quotes:

Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Don McRae –

“We know that when barriers are removed, and people with disabilities are able to participate fully in their communities and support their families, everyone benefits. This program will help families and people budget, plan, save and earn more money throughout the year.”

Executive director Disability Alliance BC Jane Dyson –

“We congratulate the ministry for implementing the annualized earnings exemption system; our organization has championed this model for several years. People who have tried it have told us that they really like the annualized model because it gives them more flexibility and independence. This change is good news for people receiving disability assistance who are able to work.”

Building Services Worker – The Cleaning Solution Roy Mitchell –

“The reason I like the annualized earnings exemption is because I don’t have to worry anymore about going over my $800 monthly exemption limit. Two times a year I get paid three times a month and now with the new program I can keep all of the money I earn. The ministry lets me know how much I’ve made so far and how much I have left to earn before I reach my annual limit of $9,600. The AEE program helps me budget, feel more self-sufficient and encourages me to work.”

Quick Facts:

  • Starting in January, the new annualized earnings exemption will apply to all 108,000 British Columbians receiving disability assistance.
  • Currently, nearly 15,000 people (16.3%) receiving disability assistance are also working in some capacity.
  • Since April 2012, the Employment Program of BC and associated local WorkBC Employment Service Centres have helped nearly 8,000 people with disabilities reach their employment goals.

Learn More:

For more information about the annualized earnings exemption, visit: http://ow.ly/EPoIn

For more information about services and programs for individuals with disabilities, call toll-free or visit: http://ow.ly/EPphn

For more information about Accessibility 2024, visit:  www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

To learn more about the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation: www.gov.bc.ca/sdsi

For more information about Disability Alliance BC, visit: http://www.disabilityalliancebc.org/

Media Contacts:

Grant Kerr
Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation