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social assistance

Hot of the Press: Social Assistance on Reserve in BC

Social Assistance on ReserveWe have updated and reprinted our booklet Social Assistance on Reserve in BC. Reprinted for the first time since 2008, this booklet features a whole new look and revised, easy-to-read content.

This booklet explains in plain language:

  • who’s eligible for social assistance on reserve,
  • what benefits are available,
  • how to apply for benefits,
  • your rights and responsibilities while you’re on benefits, and
  • how to appeal a decision about your benefits.

The booklet also features a comprehensive “Who can help” section, with detailed information on where to find an advocate in communities throughout BC, where to get legal help and information, as well as other resources.

Screening expanded to all Child in the Home of a Relative (CIHR) program recipients

Effective September 1, 2011, families who receive benefits from the Ministry of Social Development through the Child in the Home of a Relative (CIHR) Program, and who started to receive CIHR benefits before 2007 will be required to undergo screening checks. In 2007, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) introduced screening for all new CIHR applicants. Families who were already receiving CIHR benefits were exempt. The ministry recently reviewed this decision, and added screening for all families receiving CIHR benefits as a precautionary step to help ensure that no children are being put at risk.

Under the new screening requirements, each person age 18 or over living in a home that receives CIHR benefits must provide written consent for MCFD to conduct screening checks (unless that person has been screened before). Two kinds of checks will be done:

  • a Prior Contact Check: this check reviews any contact the adult may have had with either MCFD or a Delegated Aboriginal Agency; and
  • a criminal record check

If another adult (aged 18 or over) moves into the home or another child in the home turns 18, that person must agree to be screened by MCFD for continued CIHR eligibility.

MCFD will use the information obtained by these checks to decide whether the household poses any evidence of risk to the child on whose behalf CIHR benefits are paid.

Families must participate in the screening process to continue to receive CIHR benefits. Caregivers who agree to the screening will continue to receive CIHR benefits as long as the child remains in their home.

The ministry says that screening will begin with families caring for the youngest and most vulnerable children, and that they plan to complete the screening process by March 2012.

This change in policy affects families caring for approximately 1,800 children and youth in BC. Affected families will receive letters notifying them of the new policy and requesting that they fill out consent forms agreeing to both kinds of checks.

For more information about changes to the CIHR policy, and about the Extended Family Program (the program that replaces CIHR for all new applicants), please visit the BC government website.

Our thanks to Alison Ward, Community Advocate Support Line lawyer at the Community Legal Assistance Society for providing the above entry.

Expanded orthotics coverage for people on social assistance

The BC Ministry of Social Development made changes to their orthotics program as of August 2, 2011. The program can now pay for a wider range of medical footwear and orthotic needs to help people with disabilities perform day-to-day activities. People whose requests for orthotics were refused before August 2, 2011 may want to re-apply to MSD for orthotic coverage under the new criteria.

MSD can now provide more items under the program, including:

  • off-the-shelf foot orthotics (such as prefabricated insoles and arch supports);
  • off-the-shelf orthopedic footwear (such as prefabricated diabetic footwear and wound care footwear) with a cost limit of $250 and a one-year replacement period; and
  • off-the-shelf footwear with a cost limit of $125 and a one-year replacement period only when required to accommodate a custom-made orthotic

The eligibility criteria for custom-made foot orthotics also changed. Some key changes are:

  • You no longer need to show that a custom-made foot orthotic is needed to prevent amputation of your foot.
  • The $375 cost limit was increased to $450.
  • The replacement period was decreased from one pair in four years, to one pair in three years.

More information on these changes can be found by visiting the Medical equipment — orthoses section of the ministry’s website. Our thanks to Alison Ward, Community Advocate Support Line lawyer at the Community Legal Assistance Society for providing the above entry.

Nutritional supplements and social assistance on reserve

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AAND; formerly Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) recently introduced a Monthly Nutritional Supplement and Tube Feed Supplement program.

For the Monthly Nutritional Supplement Program, people living on reserve:

  • who have the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation, and
  • are receiving disability assistance,

can apply to their Band social development worker for financial support for nutritional supplements and vitamins and minerals to help address chronic medical conditions. A total of up to $205 per month may be available.

To qualify, individuals must:

  • be receiving treatment from a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner for a chronic, progressive deterioration of health due to a severe medical condition,
  • require items to alleviate specific symptoms that are a direct result of the deterioration and are necessary to prevent imminent danger to life, and
  • have no other resources available to them.

For more information, please see AAND’s questions and answers and application instructions.

The Tube Feed Supplement Program is intended for eligible people who cannot eat or digest solid food. The supplement can be used to pay for liquid nutrition as well as the medical equipment and supplies needed to deliver it. To be eligible for a tube feed supplement, individuals must be:

  • living on reserve and receiving income assistance or disability assistance, or
  • living on reserve but temporarily residing in a licensed drug and alcohol facility; or
  • a dependent of an individual described above; or
  • a child living with a relative who receives the Child out of the Parental Home benefit from the band on that child’s behalf.

To qualify, a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, or registered dietician must confirm:

  • that the individual must obtain his or her main source of nutrition through tube feeding;
  • what kind (and how much) of a nutritional product he or she needs;
  • how long he or she is expected to need tube feeding for; and
  • what other tube feeding supplies and equipment he or she needs.

For more information, see the AAND policy on the tube feed supplement. Our thanks to Alison Ward for providing the above entry.