Complaint filed against BC government's slashed access to welfare

In a 40 page complaint filed yesterday, nine social service agencies from across BC have asked the Ombudsperson of BC to launch a systemic investigation into service reductions at the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation that shut out many eligible people from accessing income assistance. The complaint, filed by the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre (BCPIAC), a law office in Vancouver, alleges that the government has created insurmountable barriers that deprive people of critical income support to which they are legally entitled.

The alleged barriers include office closures and significant reductions in office hours, making it difficult for people to speak to Ministry staff in person, channelling calls to under-resourced centralized call centres that serve the whole province and have lengthy wait times, and the creation of a complicated, 90-screen online application process that many vulnerable people have difficulty navigating. The complaint also points out that most income assistance recipients do not have phones or internet access, and many are not computer literate, so the Ministry’s changes do not make sense for the users of its services.