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Overview of System of Income and Social Support Programs in British Columbia

Petit, Gillian and Tedds, Lindsay M. (2020): Overview of System of Income and Social Support Programs in British Columbia.

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We provide a systems-based overview of all income and social support programs provided by federal, provincial, and municipal governments that can be accessed by B.C. residents. We find that there are a number of areas for reform: the B.C. system of income and social supports is large and complex with different points of access for different programs and different programs having different eligibility rules. This makes accessing programs difficult. Furthermore, for programs that offer cash transfers, total benefit levels are low comparative to the MBM poverty Threshold, making it difficult for those experiencing poverty to exit poverty. Whether these issues of complexity, access, and benefit levels can be better addressed by a basic income is a question that should be considered. On the other hand, we also observe that, when comparing provincial programs to federal programs, the provincial and federal governments target different demographic groups and use different methods of delivery: the provincial government programs are largely in-kind programs targeted to low-income persons whereas the federal government programs are largely cash transfer programs targeted to families, veterans, and seniors. In-kind programs offered by the provincial government offer valuable supports for purposes and groups not otherwise targeted by federal government programs. Whether these in-kind programs should be replaced by a basic income is also an important question that will need to be considered.

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