The Social Development Critic for the BC NDP is scolding the Christy Clark government over the recent bus pass fee for disabled residents.
The province began charging the new fee on September 1st after raising the disability assistance rates to $983 per month which was the first increase in 9 years.
Michelle Mungall believes the move was predictable after the fee was announced in the provincial budget.
“We told them this is exactly what was going to happen that people were living in such poverty they would give up their bus pass, their means of inclusion in their community so they could take that extra money to buy food and now it’s happened.”
Over 3,500 people have given up their pass instead of paying the fee.
Mungall believes the Liberals put their blinders on by forcing disabled people to choose between things like food, rent, and hydro.
“That’s the false sense of choice they have provided people with disabilities and despite the overwhelming opposition and request to this government to reverse this silly new fee, they have ignored everyone every step of the way.”
Anyone who gave up their bus pass will receive the full $77 increase while those who paid for a bus pass receive an additional $25 per month.
The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation has issued the following statement on the increase.
Everyone who has the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation and is receiving disability assistance has now received a $25 increase in their assistance rates and a $52 transportation support allowance.
They can receive their transportation support allowance in the form of a B.C. Bus Pass, or as a cash payment.
We have also eliminated the $45 annual administration fee for PWD’s. This was in response to input from people with disabilities, stakeholders, and advocates.
About 3,500 people have chosen to receive their transportation support allowance on their assistance payment instead of in the form of a bus pass.
This represents about 10% of the people with disabilities who held a bus pass prior to the increase in PWD rates. It’s important to note that PWD recipients can change their mind at any time about how to receive their transportation support allowance.
Our Government is investing an additional $170 million to raise assistance rates for people with disabilities in B.C and to ensure that all 100,000 people receiving disability assistance have equal access to transportation supports.