Invitation to Participate: Poverty Reduction Focus Group

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction has partnered with an outside organization (Argyle) to facilitate a small online group discussion on how to make progress on poverty reduction in BC and update TogetherBC – BC’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.

DABC is bringing together our network to support and host this focus group discussion.

We have a goal of continuing to reduce poverty in our province and we want your advice on how to make sure future actions support those who need it most. Whether you have ideas about how to make more progress on poverty throughout BC, or suggestions about how legislation could be changed to better serve British Columbians, we want to hear from you.

Argyle is facilitating many meetings with the general public and smaller, more focused sessions with targeted populations that are disproportionately affected by poverty. This small group discussion will be led by Argyle and staff from DABC will be present.

This small group discussion will be completely confidential (see privacy statement below).

This session will take place online over Zoom on February 21, 2023 at 1pm for 1 hour.

DABC will be requiring participants’ names and email addresses in order to send the meeting link for the online focus group discussion. This information will not be shared with Argyle or the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

After attending the focus group discussion, each participant will receive a $100 honourarium. DABC will be handling the distribution of honoraria and participants can choose to pick up their honourarium in cash at DABC’s office in downtown Vancouver or have the amount mailed to them as a cheque.

If you are interested in participating in this focus group discussion, please send an email to feedback@disabilityalliancebc.org with the subject line: “Poverty Reduction Focus Group” as soon as possible. Please provide your name and how you would like to receive your honourarium.

A maximum of 12 participants will be selected to join this focus group discussion. We anticipate there may be a high volume of interested participants, and so only selected participants will be contacted for further details.

In your email, please identify any accommodation requests you may have for the online focus group discussion.

Privacy Statement

Focus group participants must understand and agree to the following privacy statement:

  *   Participating in a small group meeting means your responses will be collected for the purposes of informing TogetherBC, B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Please note that questions in this small group are optional and your responses are confidential. Information gathered will be anonymous and analyzed as a group. Please do not include any personally identifiable information about yourself or others in your responses.

  *   If you have any questions about the collection, use and disclosure of your personal information, please contact: Director, Partnerships and Engagement: citizenengagement@gov.bc.ca.

  *   This information is being collected by the Ministry Social Development and Poverty Reduction under the authority of section 26(c) and 26(e) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FOIPPA”).

Article: Human Rights vs. BC's Mental Health Act

This article was written by Kendra Milne, and originally appeared in the edition of DABC’s Transition magazine, Dying for Health Care: Navigating An Ableist System (Fall/Winter 2022). Read the issue here.

If you’re interested in contributing to Transition as an individual or an organization, please email transition@disabilityalliancebc.org


Mental health advocates in BC have been sounding the alarm for decades: our Mental Health Act is one of the most archaic and discriminatory pieces of our ableist health care system.

Ableism plays out in mental health law and policy by reinforcing ideas that there are certain “normal” ways of thinking, interacting and participating in community. These ideas often reflect colonial and neurotypical lenses on the world.

BC’s Mental Health Act sets out when you can be admitted to hospital and treated for what the Act calls a “mental disorder” because either you ask for that care or because you are being detained and involuntarily treated.

The Act views and treats mental health issues as moral failings that can be disciplined out of people.

This law impacts people diagnosed with mental illness, brain injuries, dementia, substance-use-related health issues, and many other disabilities or health conditions.

The Act was passed in 1964 and many portions of it are the same today.

Every patient is subject to the direction and discipline of the facility staff. They can be confined in solitarily seclusion rooms, restrained to their beds, or otherwise punished during their time in hospital. There are no limits and no review on when, how or why someone can be subject to these restraints.

This is still true, even though a 2021 investigation into the Mental Health Act, by the Representative for Children and Youth, concluded there should be strict limits on restraints.

When any citizen accesses health care, the law protects our right to make our own health care consent decisions. If we are incapable of understanding and making a health care decision, the law protects our right to have the people who know us best make the decision.

That is, unless you are involuntarily committed under the Mental Health Act–then you have no such rights. All involuntary patients can be given any form of psychiatric treatment without consent and supporters are excluded from decision-making.

Other countries have acknowledged the need to modernize their mental health laws and have taken action. For example, Victoria, Australia’s recently tabled new Mental Health Act, rooted in human rights, ensures Indigenous people receive culturally safe services and establishes adequate oversight. The UK also commissioned an independent review  recognizing that its mental health law entrenched systemic racism, and relied heavily on coercion. 

There is growing evidence that our Mental Health Act is not serving BC well, and needs to be modernized to protect human rights and well-being. Emerging investigations from independent offices, and compelling stories from people and their families with experience of the mental health system, all point to the same conclusion.

BC needs an independent review of the Mental Health Act to create reforms that respect human rights, promote evidence-based care, and build in oversight from an independent provincial Mental Health Advocate.

Kendra Milne is a lawyer and Executive Director of Health Justice. Learn more at https://www.healthjustice.ca.

Credit/rebate updates

The Provincial government recently made several announcements about new rebates/credits and changes to some types of assistance:

Assistance Extended for Ukrainians coming to British Columbia

BC Hydro Rebate

  • Eligible customers will receive a one-time BC Hydro credit between December and early 2023. This includes eligible customers who receive their electricity service from FortisBC or a municipal utility.
  • The credit does not need to be declared on provincial assistance recipients’ monthly reports. 

BC Affordability Tax Credit

  • Eligible individuals and families will automatically receive the new BC Affordability Credit through the Canada Revenue Agency.  
  • An eligible person with an income of up to $36,901 will receive the maximum amount of $410.
  • This Credit will need to be recorded on provincial assistance recipients’ monthly report under “all other income/money received”.
  • It is not considered income and is treated as exempt.  

Self Employment Program

  • The Self Employment Program (SEP) policy under “Deductions and Exemptions” now allows personal contributions for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) to be deducted from gross income.

The government of Canada also recently announced two benefits administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Both benefits are not considered income and are treated as exempt:

Canada Dental Benefit

  • The interim Canada Dental Benefit is intended to help lower dental costs for eligible families earning less than $90,000 per year for children under 12 years old receiving dental care who do not have access to a private dental insurance plan.
  • Depending on family net income, a tax-free payment of $260, $390, or $650 is available for each eligible child.

One-Time Canada Housing Benefit

• The one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit aims to help low-income renters with the cost of renting by providing a maximum one-time payment of $500 for qualified applicants