Cuts to Medical Coverage and Minimum Shelter Allowance

Dear Community Partners,
Following the March 2nd budget, the Ministry of Housing and Social Development announced it will be making a number of cuts to the health and medical services available to people receiving provincial disability benefits and income assistance. The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD) is very concerned about the impact that these changes will have on our community.

We are also disappointed at the lack of community consultation about these cuts. If you share our concerns, we invite you to write to Minister Coleman and your MLA. You can find your local MLA and Minister Coleman’s contact information by going to

The BCCPD is currently reviewing the new regulations in order to provide you with detailed information on the changes. In the meantime, here is a very brief list of some of the changes which will come into force on April 1st (unless we have indicated a different date).

Medical Equipment and Supplies

A broad range of medical equipment and supplies will no longer be funded by the Ministry. Those that will be funded must be the cheapest appropriate to the person’s needs and are listed in the regulations. Here are some examples of items that the Ministry will no longer fund:

  • diagnostic testing devices such as glucose meters
  • contraceptive devices (for example, IUDs)
  • pre-made orthotics.


In addition to changes to what the Ministry will fund, there will be restrictions, for example on:

  • how often the Ministry will repair or replace equipment
  • how much money the Ministry will spend on each item of equipment. For instance, motorized scooters valued at more than $3,500 will not be funded. To be eligible for a motorized scooter, a physician must say the applicant won’t need a wheelchair for 5 years.

Monthly Nutritional Supplement (MNS)

The eligibility requirements for the MNS have been tightened. For example:

  • loss of bone density will no longer count as a symptom
  • significant weight loss not significant weight change will be used to determine eligibility.
  • applicants will be required to demonstrate they have at least two symptoms, rather than one which is currently the case.

The MNS will be reduced by $20 because the Ministry will no longer fund bottled water. People currently receiving the bottled water supplement will receive it until May 31st 2010 only.

Medical Services: Time limits and Income-Testing

Updated: As of April 30th, 2010, Medical Services Only (MSO) health coverage restrictions recently introduced by the Ministry of Housing and Social Development (MHSD) have been reversed after concerns were raised by the community. These restrictions limited Medical Services Only coverage for seniors with disabilities leaving provincial assistance and going onto federal pensions, and people leaving provincial assistance for Canada Pension Plan-Disability benefits.

As of April 30th, 2010 this one year restriction has been removed and people will continue to be eligible for Medical Services Only as long as they qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement or Canada Pension Plan benefits. People with disabilities who leave assistance for employment will also keep their medical coverage if they are receiving premium assistance from the Medical Services Plan.

Dental Treatment

  • Cleaning, examinations and fluoride treatments will be reduced to once a year (currently twice a year).
  • X-ray coverage every 2 years (currently every year).

Shelter Allowance

The $75 monthly Shelter Allowance for people who don’t pay rent is eliminated as of June 1st 2010.

Disability Community Stunned by Cuts

Disability Community Stunned by Provincial Cuts to Crucial Medical Goods and Services

MEDIA RELEASE                                                           

VANCOUVER – People with disabilities who are already struggling to manage on provincial disability benefits have been told by the Province it will no longer pay for some of the medically essential items and services they depend on.

Beginning April 1st, the Province will no longer fund a range of health items including pre-made foot orthotics, diabetic glucometers and a bottled water supplement of $20 a month for people with conditions such as HIV/AIDS.

“We understand the government is dealing with an economic downturn, but cutting funding for medically essential items to people with disabilities who are already struggling to get by is not the way to deal with it, said Robin Loxton of the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD).

“This will not save money,“ said the Coalition’s Executive Director Jane Dyson. “People’s overall health and well-being will deteriorate and they will access the health system more as a result.”

The BCCPD is also particularly concerned about the impact the government’s decision to end the $75 shelter minimum will have on people who are homeless. “Homeless people have shelter-related costs. This cut means these people with disabilities will receive only $531 a month to live on, said Loxton.

The government is also restricting dental services for people with disabilities; for example, beginning April 1st the Province will only pay for x-rays every two years. “The lack of adequate dental coverage has been a long-time concern of our community. Dental health is extremely important and the amount the Province pays is already inadequate at $1,000 every two years,” said Dyson.

Background: People who receive BC disability benefits get a maximum of $375 a month for housing and $531 for everything else, including food and clothing. In order for provincial benefits recipients to access health supplements from the government they must meet all the eligibility requirements under the legislation.

For more information contact:
Robin Loxton: 604-872-1278
Jane Dyson: 604-875-0188

Personal Planning Legislation

Personal Planning Legislation

On October 7, 2009, the Honourable Mike de Jong introduced Bill 13 in the provincial Legislature. This Bill contains amendments to the Adult Guardianship and Planning Statutes Amendments Act (also known as Bill 29) which was passed in October 2007 but is not yet in effect. Bill 13 allows the Planning Statutes amendments to be brought into effect separately from the Adult Guardianship Act amendments.

Proclamation of the Planning Statutes amendments has been held up because they are currently dependent on the Adult Guardianship Act amendments which have been delayed due to cost restraints. Bill 13 will allow the Planning Statutes amendments to proceed independently.

“We are very pleased that government has listened to the community and found a way for the personal planning amendments to move forward”, says Joanne Taylor, Executive Director of the Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry. “Nidus led a broad group of community organizations who met with former Attorney General Wally Oppal prior to the last election to ask for a solution to the delay. Our subsequent brief to the new Attorney General was heard and we applaud Minister de Jong for making this a priority.”

The bringing into effect of amendments to the Representation Agreement Act, Power of Attorney Act and the Health Care Consent and Care Facility Admission Act will enable British Columbians to engage in meaningful and effective planning for future care in the event they need help managing their affairs. This was the goal of Charting the Course Ahead, a proposal written by Nidus and submitted to government in October 2006, which paved the way for the personal planning amendments.

“The passage of Bill 13 and proclamation of the planning amendments will bring certainty and provide accessibility to Representation Agreements, the product of a grass-roots law reform effort that began over 20 years ago. Representation Agreements are a crucial legal tool for adults who want to plan for their future and most importantly for adults who need support with decision-making today.”

Thank you to the many citizens and community groups who have been committed to ensuring that all British Columbians have access to safe and effective legal tools that preserve their dignity and identity and provide support for their wishes and preferences in times of need.

Nidus would like to acknowledge, in particular, the Alzheimer Society of BC, BC Association of Community Living, BC Coalition of People with Disabilities, Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC and Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network. And thank you to our current project funders: the Law Foundation of BC, the Vancouver Foundation, the Notary Foundation, the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Victoria Foundation.

Keep in touch with Nidus to find out how the personal planning amendments apply to you and your constituency and when they will come into effect.

Nidus is a non-profit, charitable organization. Visit them at

Contact Nidus at 604-408-7414 or