February 17, 2015 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE BC GOVERNMENT BOWS TO PUBLIC DEMANDS, RESCINDS CLAWBACK OF CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS
VICTORIA – With today’s budget, the BC government has finally done the right thing and removed the clawback of family support payments to single parents living in poverty, says Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS).
“We congratulate the government for listening to the thousands of voices from across BC in reversing this unjust and punitive policy,” said TAPS President Joan McHardy. “While TAPS welcomes the change in direction, it is a travesty that thousands of single mothers had to deprive their families of basic necessities due to the imposition of the clawback on family maintenance payments.”
In 2013, the provincial government deducted $17 million in family-maintenance payments from people on income or disability assistance. Under current BC welfare rates, a single mother with one child receives $945 a month in income assistance or $1,242 in disability assistance. When the clawback was in place, if she received any child-support money from an ex-partner, the government would reduce her assistance cheque by an equal amount.
“The clawback of child support payments was totally unfair to women living in poverty and deprived them of crucial resources needed to raise their families,” said Stephen Portman, Interim Executive Director of TAPS. ““We look forward to working with the government on other changes needed to help reduce the unacceptably high levels of child poverty in British Columbia.
“Unfortunately, Budget 2015 includes $230 million in tax reductions to the wealthiest British Columbians who earn $150,000 or more each year. TAPS believes this money should be allocated to increasing income assistance rates and providing better supports to people with disabilities.”
According to a November 2013 report, British Columbia has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, with one in five children considered statistically poor. The report by the child and youth advocacy group First Call found B.C.'s child poverty rate is 18.6 per cent compared to the national rate of 13.3 per cent.
TAPS has proposed specific measures that would make a real difference in addressing child poverty, which should have been included in today’s budget:
- Increase income assistance rates to the after-tax poverty rate and index them annually - Begin implementation of a province-wide child care program, using the Quebec $10-day model. - Increase the minimum wage and index it annually. Ensure all British Columbians who qualify for the CPP disability benefit, also receive the BC persons with disabilities benefit. This discrepancy does not exist in any other province except BC, and significantly impacts the quality of life for seniors with disabilities.
TAPS has provided free, face-to-face legal advocacy for South Island residents with income assistance, disability benefits and tenancy issues since 1989. Contact: Stephen Portman, Interim Executive Director - TAPS, (p) 250-361-3521