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This Act is current to May 12, 2024
See the Tables of Legislative Changes for this Act’s legislative history, including any changes not in force.

Employment and Assistance Act

[SBC 2002] CHAPTER 40

Assented to May 30, 2002

Contents
Part 1 — Introductory Provisions
1Interpretation
1.1Meaning of "spouse"
2Eligibility of family unit
3Act does not apply to persons with disabilities
Part 2 — Assistance
4Income assistance and supplements
5Hardship assistance
6Financial assistance to service or program providers
7Employment-related programs
8Repealed
9Employment plan
10Information and verification
11Reporting obligations
12Not in force
13Consequences of not meeting employment-related obligations
14Consequences of not accepting or disposing of property
15Repealed
15.1Consequences for providing inaccurate or incomplete information
15.2Consequences in relation to outstanding arrest warrants
16Applying periods of ineligibility and reduction
Part 3 — Appeals
17Reconsideration and appeal rights
18No appeal from decision based on same circumstances
19Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal
19.1Application of Administrative Tribunals Act
19.2Maintenance of order at hearings
19.3Time limit for judicial review
20Powers and duties of the chair
21Commencing an appeal
22Panels of the tribunal to conduct appeals
23Dismissal of appeal
24Decision of panel
25Vexatious proceedings
26Repealed
Part 3.1Agreements Respecting the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
26.1Definitions for this Part
26.2Interpretation and administration of Act
26.3Agreements in relation to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
26.4Required conditions in agreements
26.5Effect of agreements
Part 4 — General Provisions
27Overpayments
28Liability for and recovery of debts under Act
29No garnishment, attachment, execution or seizure
30Agreements
31Offence of supplying false or misleading information
32Other provisions relating to offences
33Minister's powers
34Delegation of minister's powers and duties
35Power to make regulations
36Repealed
37Regulations respecting eligibility and assignment of maintenance rights
38Repealed
38.1Regulations respecting pilot projects
Part 5 — Transitional and Consequential Provisions
39Application of sections 35 and 36 of the Interpretation Act
40Repealed
41Recipients under former Act deemed recipients under this Act
42Indebtedness under former Act
43-47Repealed
47.1Transitional — repeal of section 15
48-64 Consequential Amendments and Repeals
65Commencement

Part 1 — Introductory Provisions

Interpretation

1   (1) In this Act:

"applicant" means the person in a family unit who applies under this Act for income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement on behalf of the family unit, and includes

(a) the person's spouse, if the spouse is a dependant, and

(b) the person's adult dependants;

"business day" means a day other than Saturday or a holiday;

"chair" means the chair of the tribunal appointed under section 19 [employment and assistance appeal tribunal];

"child" means an unmarried person under 19 years of age;

"dependant", in relation to a person, means anyone who resides with the person and who

(a) is the spouse of the person, or

(b) is a dependent child of the person;

(c) [Repealed 2019-36-87.]

"dependent child", with respect to a parent, means a child, other than a child who is 18 years of age and is a person with disabilities, who resides in the parent's place of residence for more than 50% of each month and relies on that parent for the necessities of life, and includes a child in circumstances prescribed under subsection (2) but excludes a child in circumstances prescribed under subsection (2.1);

"dependent youth" means a dependent child who has reached 16 years of age;

"employment plan" means a plan required under section 9 [employment plan] and includes an amended employment plan;

"family unit" means an applicant or a recipient and the applicant's or the recipient's dependants;

"former Act" means

(a) the BC Benefits (Income Assistance) Act,

(b) the BC Benefits (Youth Works) Act, or

(c) the BC Benefits (Appeals) Act;

"hardship assistance" means an amount for shelter and support provided under section 5 (1) [hardship assistance];

"income assistance" means an amount for shelter and support provided under section 4 [income assistance and supplements];

"panel" means a panel, appointed under section 22 (1) [panels of the tribunal to conduct appeals], of the tribunal;

"person with disabilities" has the same meaning as in the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act;

"recipient" means the person in a family unit to or for whom income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement is provided under this Act for the use or benefit of someone in the family unit, and includes

(a) the person's spouse, if the spouse is a dependant, and

(b) the person's adult dependants;

"spouse" has the meaning in section 1.1;

"supplement" means any form of assistance specified by regulation, other than income assistance, hardship assistance or financial assistance provided under section 6 [financial assistance to service or program providers] and, without limitation, includes access to programs established or funded under this Act;

"tribunal" means the Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal established under section 19 [Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal].

(2) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may prescribe other circumstances in which a child is a dependent child of a parent for the purposes of this Act.

(2.1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may prescribe circumstances in which a child is not a dependent child of a parent for the purposes of this Act.

(3) For the purpose of the definition of "dependant", spouses do not reside apart by reason only that a spouse is employed or self-employed in a position that requires the spouse to be away from the residence of the family unit for periods longer than a day.

Meaning of "spouse"

1.1   (1) Two persons are spouses of each other for the purposes of this Act if

(a) they are married to each other,

(b) they declare to the minister that they are in a marriage-like relationship, or

(c) they have resided together for at least the previous 12 consecutive months and the minister is satisfied that the relationship demonstrates

(i) financial dependence or interdependence, and

(ii) social and familial interdependence

consistent with a marriage-like relationship.

(2) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may prescribe circumstances in which two persons are not spouses of each other for the purposes of this Act.

Eligibility of family unit

2   For the purposes of this Act, a family unit is eligible, in relation to income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement, if

(a) each person in the family unit on whose account the income assistance, hardship assistance or supplement is provided satisfies the initial and continuing conditions of eligibility established under this Act, and

(b) the family unit has not been declared ineligible for the income assistance, hardship assistance or supplement under this Act.

Act does not apply to persons with disabilities

3   A family unit that includes a person with disabilities is not eligible for income assistance or hardship assistance under this Act.

Part 2 — Assistance

Income assistance and supplements

4   Subject to the regulations, the minister may provide income assistance or a supplement to or for a family unit that is eligible for it.

Hardship assistance

5   (1) Subject to the regulations, the minister may provide hardship assistance to or for a family unit that

(a) is eligible for it, and

(b) is not eligible for income assistance.

(2) If hardship assistance is repayable, before providing it the minister may specify and require a particular type of security for repayment.

Financial assistance to service or program providers

6   The minister may provide financial assistance to a person who, or group of persons that, undertakes to provide a service or program that, in the minister's opinion, will promote the purposes of this Act.

Employment-related programs

7   The minister may establish or fund employment-related programs for applicants, recipients or dependent youths who have difficulty finding or maintaining employment.

Repealed

8   [Repealed 2019-36-90.]

Employment plan

9   (1) For a family unit to be eligible for income assistance or hardship assistance, each applicant or recipient in the family unit, when required to do so by the minister, must

(a) enter into an employment plan, and

(b) comply with the conditions in the employment plan.

(2) A dependent youth, when required to do so by the minister, must

(a) enter into an employment plan, and

(b) comply with the conditions in the employment plan.

(3) The minister may specify the conditions in an employment plan including, without limitation, a condition requiring the applicant, recipient or dependent youth to participate in a specific employment-related program that, in the minister's opinion, will assist the applicant, recipient or dependent youth to

(a) find employment, or

(b) become more employable.

(4) If an employment plan includes a condition requiring an applicant, a recipient or a dependent youth to participate in a specific employment-related program, that condition is not met if the person

(a) fails to demonstrate reasonable efforts to participate in the program, or

(b) ceases, except for medical reasons, to participate in the program.

(5) If a dependent youth fails to comply with subsection (2), the minister may reduce the amount of income assistance or hardship assistance provided to or for the family unit by the prescribed amount for the prescribed period.

(6) The minister may amend, suspend or cancel an employment plan.

(7) A decision under this section

(a) requiring a person to enter into an employment plan,

(b) amending, suspending or cancelling an employment plan, or

(c) specifying the conditions of an employment plan

is final and conclusive and is not open to review by a court on any ground or to appeal under section 17 (3) [reconsideration and appeal rights].

Information and verification

10   (1) For the purposes of

(a) determining whether a person wanting to apply for income assistance or hardship assistance is eligible to apply for it,

(b) determining or auditing eligibility for income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement,

(c) assessing employability and skills for the purposes of an employment plan, or

(d) assessing compliance with the conditions of an employment plan,

the minister may do one or more of the following:

(e) direct a person referred to in paragraph (a), an applicant or a recipient to supply the minister with information within the time and in the manner specified by the minister;

(f) seek verification of any information supplied to the minister by a person referred to in paragraph (a), an applicant or a recipient;

(g) direct a person referred to in paragraph (a), an applicant or a recipient to supply verification of any information the person, the applicant or the recipient supplied to the minister.

(2) The minister may direct an applicant or a recipient to supply verification of information received by the minister if that information relates to the eligibility of the family unit for income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement.

(3) Subsection (1) (e) to (g) applies with respect to a dependent youth for a purpose referred to in subsection (1) (c) or (d).

(4) If an applicant or a recipient fails to comply with a direction under this section, the minister may

(a) reduce the amount of income assistance or hardship assistance provided to or for the family unit by the prescribed amount for the prescribed period, or

(b) declare the family unit ineligible for income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement for the prescribed period.

(4.1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may prescribe circumstances in which subsection (4) (a) or (b) does not apply.

(5) If a dependent youth fails to comply with a direction under this section, the minister may reduce the amount of income assistance or hardship assistance provided to or for the family unit by the prescribed amount for the prescribed period.

Reporting obligations

11   (1) For a family unit to be eligible for income assistance, a recipient, in the manner and within the time specified by regulation, must

(a) submit to the minister a report that

(i) is in the form specified by the minister, and

(ii) contains the prescribed information, and

(b) notify the minister of any change in circumstances or information that

(i) may affect the eligibility of the family unit, and

(ii) was previously provided to the minister.

(2) A report under subsection (1) (a) is deemed not to have been submitted unless the accuracy of the information provided in it is confirmed by a signed statement of each recipient.

Not in force

12   [Not in force.]

Consequences of not meeting employment-related obligations

13   (1) Subject to the conditions of an employment plan, the family unit of an applicant or a recipient is subject to the consequence described in subsection (2) for a family unit matching the applicant's or recipient's family unit if

(a) at any time while a recipient in the family unit is receiving income assistance or hardship assistance or within 60 days before an applicant in the family unit applies for income assistance, the applicant or recipient has

(i) failed to accept suitable employment,

(ii) voluntarily left employment without just cause, or

(iii) been dismissed from employment for just cause, or

(b) at any time while a recipient in the family unit is receiving income assistance or hardship assistance, the recipient fails to demonstrate reasonable efforts to search for employment.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1),

(a) if a family unit includes dependent children, the income assistance or hardship assistance provided to or for the family unit must be reduced by the prescribed amount for the prescribed period, and

(b) if a family unit does not include dependent children, the family unit is not eligible for income assistance for the prescribed period.

(3) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may specify by regulation categories of applicants or recipients to whose family units this section does not apply.

Consequences of not accepting or disposing of property

14   (1) The minister may take action under subsection (3) if, within 2 years before the date of application for income assistance or hardship assistance or at any time while income assistance or hardship assistance is being provided, an applicant or a recipient has done either of the following:

(a) failed to accept or pursue income, assets or other means of support that would, in the minister's opinion, enable the applicant or recipient to be completely or partly independent of income assistance, hardship assistance or supplements;

(b) disposed of real or personal property for consideration that, in the minister's opinion, is inadequate.

(1.1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may specify by regulation sources of income, types of assets or other means of support that the minister must not consider under subsection (1) (a).

(2) A family unit is not eligible for income assistance for the prescribed period if, within 2 years before the date of application for income assistance or hardship assistance or at any time while income assistance or hardship assistance is being provided, an applicant or a recipient has done either of the following:

(a) disposed of real or personal property to reduce assets;

(b) [Not in force.]

(3) In the circumstances described in subsection (1), the minister may

(a) reduce the amount of income assistance or hardship assistance provided to or for the family unit by the prescribed amount for the prescribed period, or

(b) declare the family unit of the person ineligible for income assistance or hardship assistance for the prescribed period.

Repealed

15   [Repealed 2015-23-54.]

Consequences for providing inaccurate or incomplete information

15.1   (1) The minister may take action under subsection (2) if the minister determines that

(a) income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement was provided to or for a family unit that was not eligible for it,

(b) the income assistance, hardship assistance or supplement was provided to or for the family unit on the basis of inaccurate or incomplete information provided by the applicant or recipient

(i) under section 10 (1) (e) [information and verification], or

(ii) in a report under section 11 (1) [reporting obligations], and

(c) in the minister's opinion the applicant or recipient failed to take the necessary steps to ensure the accuracy or completeness of the information before providing it to the minister.

(2) In the circumstances described in subsection (1), the minister may reduce the income assistance or hardship assistance provided to or for the family unit by the prescribed amount for the prescribed period.

(3) The periods prescribed for the purposes of subsection (2) may vary with the number of determinations made under subsection (1) in relation to a family unit.

(4) If a family unit that is subject to a reduction under section 14.1 of the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act qualifies for income assistance or hardship assistance under this Act before the period prescribed for the purposes of section 14.1 (2) of that Act expires, the reduction is deemed to have been imposed under subsection (2) of this section.

Consequences in relation to outstanding arrest warrants

15.2   (1) No income assistance, hardship assistance or supplement may be paid to or for a family unit on account of an applicant or recipient for whom a warrant for arrest has been issued under

(a) the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada), or

(b) any other enactment of Canada in relation to an indictable offence, and

on whom the warrant has not been executed.

(2) Despite section 5 and subsection (1) of this section, and subject to the regulations, the minister may provide

(a) income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement to or for the family unit on account of the person who is subject to the warrant, or

(b) a supplement to

(i) the person who is the subject of the warrant, for the purpose of the person returning to the jurisdiction that issued the warrant, or

(ii) the family unit, for the purpose of the family unit returning to the jurisdiction that issued the warrant.

(3) If a family unit includes a person described in subsection (1), the person's income and assets must be included in the income and assets of the family unit for the purposes of determining whether the family unit is eligible for income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement, except as otherwise provided in the regulations.

(4) In this section, "indictable offence" includes an offence that is deemed under section 34 (1) of the Interpretation Act (Canada) to be an indictable offence.

Applying periods of ineligibility and reduction

16   (1) If a family unit is ineligible for income assistance or hardship assistance for a month for more than one reason or on account of more than one person, the month counts towards the period of ineligibility applicable for each reason and on account of each person.

(2) If a family unit is ineligible for income assistance or hardship assistance for a period that overlaps with a period when the income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement provided to or for the family unit are subject to a reduction, the period of the reduction is reduced by the period of the overlap.

(3) If the income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement provided to or for the family unit are subject to a reduction for more than one reason or on account of more than one person in the family unit for a month, the income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement provided to or for the family unit for the month must be reduced for each reason and for each person.

Part 3 — Appeals

Reconsideration and appeal rights

17   (1) Subject to section 18, a person may request the minister to reconsider any of the following decisions made under this Act:

(a) a decision that results in a refusal to provide income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement to or for someone in the person's family unit;

(b) a decision that results in a discontinuance of income assistance or a supplement provided to or for someone in the person's family unit;

(c) a decision that results in a reduction of income assistance or a supplement provided to or for someone in the person's family unit;

(d) a decision in respect of the amount of a supplement provided to or for someone in the person's family unit if that amount is less than the lesser of

(i) the maximum amount of the supplement under the regulations, and

(ii) the cost of the least expensive and appropriate manner of providing the supplement;

(e) a decision respecting the conditions of an employment plan under section 9 [employment plan].

(2) A request under subsection (1) must be made, and the decision reconsidered, within the time limits and in accordance with any rules specified by regulation.

(3) Subject to a regulation under subsection (5) and to sections 9 (7) [employment plan], 18 and 27 (2) [overpayments], a person who is dissatisfied with the outcome of a request for a reconsideration under subsection (1) (a) to (d) may appeal the decision that is the outcome of the request to the tribunal.

(4) A right of appeal given under subsection (3) is subject to the time limits and other requirements set out in this Act and the regulations.

(5) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may designate by regulation

(a) categories of supplements that are not appealable to the tribunal, and

(b) circumstances in which a decision to refuse to provide income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement is not appealable to the tribunal.

No appeal from decision based on same circumstances

18   If a person reapplies for income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement after

(a) the eligibility of the person's family unit for the income assistance, hardship assistance or supplement has been determined under this Act,

(b) a right of appeal under section 17 (3) has been exercised in respect of the determination referred to in paragraph (a), and

(c) the decision of the tribunal in respect of the appeal referred to in paragraph (b) has been implemented,

no right of reconsideration or appeal exists in respect of the second or a subsequent application unless there has been a change in circumstances relevant to the determination referred to in paragraph (a).

Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal

19   (1) The Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal is established to determine appeals of decisions that are appealable under

(a) section 17 (3) [reconsideration and appeal rights] of this Act,

(b) section 16 (3) [reconsideration and appeal rights] of the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act, and

(c) section 6 (3) [reconsideration and appeal rights] of the Child Care Subsidy Act.

(2) The tribunal consists of the following individuals appointed after a merit-based process:

(a) a member appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and designated as the chair;

(b) one or more members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and designated as vice chairs after consultation with the chair;

(c) other members appointed by the minister after consultation with the chair.

(3) To be eligible for an appointment under subsection (2), a person must have the prescribed qualifications.

(4) The chair and vice chair may be paid the remuneration specified by the Lieutenant Governor in Council in accordance with general directives of Treasury Board.

(5) A member of the tribunal, other than the chair or vice chair, may be paid remuneration in the time and manner and at the rates prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council in accordance with general directives of Treasury Board.

Application of Administrative Tribunals Act

19.1   The following provisions of the Administrative Tribunals Act apply to the tribunal:

(a) Part 1 [Interpretation and Application];

(b) Part 2 [Appointments], except sections 7 (3) [remuneration and benefits after expiry of term] and 10 [remuneration and benefits for members];

(c) Part 3 [Clustering];

(d) section 30 [tribunal duties];

(d.1) section 40 [information admissible in tribunal proceedings];

(e) section 44 [tribunal without jurisdiction over constitutional questions];

(f) section 46.3 [tribunal without jurisdiction to apply the Human Rights Code];

(g) Part 8 [Immunities];

(h) section 58 [standard of review with privative clause];

(i) section 59.1 [surveys];

(j) section 59.2 [reporting];

(k) section 60 (1) (g) to (i) and (2) [power to make regulations];

(l) section 61 [application of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act].

Maintenance of order at hearings

19.2   (1) At an oral hearing, the chair of a panel of the tribunal may make any orders or give any directions considered necessary for the maintenance of order at the hearing, and, if any person disobeys or fails to comply with any order or direction, the chair of the panel may call on the assistance of any peace officer to enforce the order or direction.

(2) A peace officer called on under subsection (1) may take any action that is necessary to enforce the order or direction and may use any force that is reasonably required for that purpose.

(3) Without limiting subsection (1), the chair of a panel of the tribunal, by order, may impose restrictions on the continued participation in or attendance of a person in a proceeding.

Time limit for judicial review

19.3   (1) An application for judicial review of a final decision of the tribunal must be commenced within 60 days of the date the decision is issued.

(2) Despite subsection (1), either before or after expiration of the time, the court may extend the time for making the application, on terms the court considers proper, if it is satisfied that there are serious grounds for relief, there is a reasonable explanation for the delay and no substantial prejudice or hardship will result to a person affected by the delay.

Powers and duties of the chair

20   (1) The chair must submit to the minister an annual report concerning the tribunal's activities.

(2) The chair may

(a) establish practices and procedures not inconsistent with the regulations for the tribunal, and

(b) [Repealed 2004-45-85.]

(3) The chair may terminate an appointment to a panel and may fill a vacancy on a panel before a hearing starts.

(4) Employees may be appointed under the Public Service Act as required to enable the tribunal, the chair or vice chairs to exercise their powers or perform their duties.

Commencing an appeal

21   (1) A person who has a right of appeal to the tribunal must commence the appeal in the prescribed manner within 7 business days of the date the person receives notice of the decision being appealed.

(2) If a person who has a right of appeal to the tribunal does not commence an appeal within the period specified under subsection (1),

(a) the person is deemed to have accepted the minister's decision, and

(b) the minister's decision is final and conclusive and is not open to review in a court on any ground or to appeal to the tribunal.

Panels of the tribunal to conduct appeals

22   (1) If a person commences an appeal in accordance with section 21 (1), the chair must appoint a panel consisting of up to 3 members of the tribunal to hear and determine the appeal.

(2) If a panel consists of more than one member, the chair must designate a chair of the panel from among the members of the panel, and if a panel consists of one member, that member is the chair of the panel.

(3) A panel must conduct a hearing into the decision being appealed within the prescribed period either

(a) orally, or

(b) with the consent of the parties, in writing.

(4) A panel may consider evidence that is not part of the record as the panel considers is reasonably required for a full and fair disclosure of all matters related to the decision under appeal.

(5) [Repealed 2019-36-95.]

(6) The panel chair is responsible for deciding any question of practice or procedure that arises during a hearing and is not provided for in the regulations or in the practices and procedures of the chair under section 20 (2) (a) [powers and duties of the chair].

Dismissal of appeal

23   (1) If at any time before a panel makes a decision under section 24 [decision of panel], both parties to the appeal consent to the dismissal of the appeal by each signing the form specified by the minister,

(a) if the hearing required by section 22 (3) has not started,

(i) the minister must notify the chair of the consent to dismiss,

(ii) the chair must withdraw the appeal from the panel, and

(iii) no remuneration under section 19 (5) [employment and assistance appeal tribunal] may be paid in respect of the appeal, and

(b) if the hearing required by section 22 (3) [panels of the tribunal to conduct appeals] has started,

(i) the minister must notify the chair of the consent to dismiss,

(ii) the chair must advise the panel of the consent, and

(iii) the panel must dismiss the appeal.

(2) A panel may dismiss an appeal if it considers that the appeal is frivolous, vexatious or trivial or is not brought in good faith.

Decision of panel

24   (1) After holding the hearing required under section 22 (3) [panels of the tribunal to conduct appeals], the panel must determine whether the decision being appealed is, as applicable,

(a) reasonably supported by the evidence, or

(b) a reasonable application of the applicable enactment in the circumstances of the person appealing the decision.

(2) For a decision referred to in subsection (1), the panel must

(a) confirm the decision if the panel finds that the decision being appealed is reasonably supported by the evidence or is a reasonable application of the applicable enactment in the circumstances of the person appealing the decision, and

(b) otherwise, rescind the decision, and if the decision of the tribunal cannot be implemented without a further decision as to amount, refer the further decision back to the minister.

(3) The panel must provide written reasons for its decision under subsection (2).

(4) Notice of the decision and reasons of the panel must be given in accordance with the regulations.

(5) The decision of a majority of the members of a panel is the decision of the tribunal, but the decision of the chair of the panel governs in the case of a tie.

(6) The tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to inquire into, hear and determine all those matters and questions of fact, law and discretion arising or required to be determined in an appeal under section 19 and to make any order permitted to be made.

(7) A decision or order of the tribunal under this Act on a matter in respect of which the tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction is final and conclusive and is not open to question or review in any court.

Vexatious proceedings

25   If, on application by the minister, the Supreme Court is satisfied that a person has habitually, persistently and without reasonable grounds, instituted vexatious appeals to the tribunal, the court, after hearing the person or giving the person an opportunity to be heard, may order that an appeal to the tribunal must not, without leave of the court, be instituted by that person.

Repealed

26   [Repealed 2004-45-87.]

Part 3.1Agreements Respecting the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

Definitions for this Part

26.1   In this Part:

"decision-making agreement" means an agreement negotiated and entered into under section 7 [decision-making agreements] of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act relating to statutory powers of decision under this Act;

"Indigenous governing body" has the same meaning as in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act;

"Indigenous peoples" has the same meaning as in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act;

"minister's duty" means a duty, responsibility or function given by law to the minister respecting the administration or enforcement of this Act, but does not include a statutory power of decision;

"minister's power" means a power or right given by law to the minister respecting the administration or enforcement of this Act, but does not include a statutory power of decision;

"power or duty agreement" means an agreement entered into under section 6 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act relating to one or both of the following:

(a) the exercise of a minister's power, or the performance of a minister's duty, jointly by

(i) an Indigenous governing body, and

(ii) the minister or a delegate of the minister;

(b) the consent of the Indigenous governing body before the exercise of a minister's power or the performance of a minister's duty;

"statutory power of decision" has the same meaning as in the Judicial Review Procedure Act.

Interpretation and administration of Act

26.2   This Act must be interpreted and administered in accordance with the principle that Indigenous peoples have inherent rights of self-government and self-determination that are recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Agreements in relation to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

26.3   (1) If, for the purposes of this Act, the minister enters into a power or duty agreement, the minister must publish a copy of the power or duty agreement, and any amendments to the agreement, on a publicly accessible website maintained by or on behalf of the government.

(2) An agreement or amendment referred to in subsection (1) is not effective until the later of

(a) the date the agreement or amendment is published, and

(b) any commencement date specified in the agreement or amendment.

(3) A single agreement may contain both a decision-making agreement and a power or duty agreement.

Required conditions in agreements

26.4   A decision-making agreement or power or duty agreement must include conditions on the use, disclosure and security of information that is provided under the agreement to an Indigenous governing body.

Effect of agreements

26.5   If a decision-making agreement or power or duty agreement has been entered into,

(a) the statutory power of decision, minister's power or minister's duty, as applicable, must be exercised or performed in accordance with the agreement,

(b) a reference under this Act to the statutory power of decision, minister's power or minister's duty is to be read as a reference to the statutory power of decision, minister's power or minister's duty as exercised or performed in accordance with the agreement, and

(c) the following terms of the agreement have the force of law:

(i) terms identifying the person who is exercising or performing, or providing consent in relation to, a statutory power of decision, minister's power or minister's duty in accordance with the agreement;

(ii) terms relating to the criteria or procedures for the exercise or performance of, or consent in relation to, a statutory power of decision, minister's power or minister's duty in accordance with the agreement.

Part 4 — General Provisions

Overpayments

27   (1) If income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement is provided to or for a family unit that is not eligible for it, recipients who are members of the family unit during the period for which the overpayment is provided are liable to repay to the government the amount or value of the overpayment provided for that period.

(2) The minister's decision about the amount a person is liable to repay under subsection (1) is not appealable under section 17 (3) [reconsideration and appeal rights].

Liability for and recovery of debts under Act

28   (1) An amount that a person is liable to repay under this Act is a debt due to the government that may be

(a) recovered in a court that has jurisdiction, or

(b) deducted, in accordance with the regulations, from any subsequent income assistance, hardship assistance or supplement for which the person's family unit is eligible or from an amount payable to the person by the government under a prescribed enactment.

(2) Subject to the regulations, the minister may enter into an agreement, or accept any right assigned, for the repayment of an amount referred to in subsection (1).

(3) An agreement under subsection (2) may be entered into before or after the income assistance, hardship assistance or supplement to which it relates is provided.

(4) A person is jointly and separately liable for a debt referred to under subsection (1) that accrued in respect of a family unit while the person was a recipient in the family unit.

No garnishment, attachment, execution or seizure

29   (1) Income assistance, hardship assistance and supplements are exempt from garnishment, attachment, execution or seizure under any Act.

(2) Subsection (1) does not prevent income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement being retained by way of a deduction or set off under this Act, the Financial Administration Act or a prescribed enactment.

Agreements

30   (1) Subject to Part 3.1 and subsections (2) and (2.1), the minister may enter into an agreement with any person or group of persons.

(2) With the prior approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the minister may enter into an agreement, including an information-sharing agreement, on behalf of the government of British Columbia with any of the following:

(a) the government of Canada or an agency of the government of Canada;

(b) the government of a province or another jurisdiction in Canada or an agency of the government of a province or other jurisdiction;

(c) the government of a state of the United States or an agency of that government.

(2.1) With the prior approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the minister may enter into an information-sharing agreement with

(a) a public body as defined in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, or

(b) a legal entity representing an Indigenous community.

(2.2) Prior approval is not required under subsection (2.1) if the information-sharing agreement is for the purpose of the administration or enforcement of this Act, the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act or another enactment.

(2.3) An information-sharing agreement under this section is not required for the purpose of sharing for research purposes personal information collected under this Act if the personal information is disclosed in accordance with section 33 (3) (h) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

(3) An information-sharing agreement may be entered into under subsection (2) or (2.1) only for

(a) the purposes of the administration or enforcement of

(i) this Act,

(ii) the Income Tax Act or the Income Tax Act (Canada),

(iii) the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada), or

(iv) a social benefit program operated by a government, an agency, a public body or a legal entity referred to in subsection (2) or (2.1), or

(b) a purpose for which the minister is authorized under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to disclose personal information in the jurisdiction of the government, agency, public body or entity with which the agreement is made.

(4) In this section, "information-sharing agreement" includes a data-matching agreement.

Offence of supplying false or misleading information

31   (1) A person commits an offence who supplies, in an application under this Act or when directed or required under section 10 (1), (2) or (3) [information and verification], section 11 [reporting obligations] or the regulations, information that is false or misleading with respect to a material fact.

(2) A person does not commit an offence under subsection (1) if, at the time the information was supplied, the person did not know that it was false or misleading and, with the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have known that it was false or misleading.

(3) A person who commits an offence under this section is liable on conviction to a fine of not more than $2 000 or to imprisonment for not more than 6 months or to both.

(4) If a person is convicted of an offence under this section, in addition to a penalty that may be imposed under subsection (3), the court may order the person to repay the government all or part of any amount that person received under this Act as a result of committing the offence.

(5) If the court makes an order under subsection (4) and the amount ordered to be paid is not paid immediately, the government may file the order with a court in British Columbia that has jurisdiction.

(6) An order filed under subsection (5) may be enforced in the same manner, as applicable, as if it were

(a) a judgment of the Supreme Court, or

(b) a payment order of the Provincial Court.

Other provisions relating to offences

32   (1) Section 5 of the Offence Act does not apply to this Act or the regulations.

(2) The time limit for laying an information for an offence under this Act is 12 months after the facts on which the information is based first came to the minister's attention.

(3) A document purporting to have been issued by the minister, certifying the date on which the minister became aware of the facts on which the information is based,

(a) is admissible without proof of the signature or official character of the person appearing to have signed the certificate, and

(b) is proof of the certified facts unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Minister's powers

33   (1) For the purposes of this Act, the minister may acquire and dispose of real or personal property.

(2) The minister may conduct surveys and research activities for the purposes of program evaluation.

(3) The minister may

(a) prescribe forms for use under this Act, and

(b) specify forms for use under this Act.

Delegation of minister's powers and duties

34   (1) Subject to the regulations, the minister may delegate to any person or category of persons any or all of the minister's powers, duties or functions under this Act except

(a) the power to prescribe forms,

(b) the power to appoint members to the tribunal, and

(c) the power to enter into an agreement under section 30 (2) or (2.1), unless section 30 (2.2) applies in relation to the agreement.

(2) A delegation of the powers, duties or functions of the minister must be in writing and may include any limits or conditions the minister considers advisable.

Power to make regulations

35   (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations referred to in section 41 of the Interpretation Act.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

(a) specifying forms of assistance for the purpose of the definition of "supplement";

(b) prescribing categories of income assistance, hardship assistance and supplements which, without limitation, may relate to the purpose, duration or frequency of the income assistance, hardship assistance or supplement or the category of person who, or family unit that, is eligible for it;

(c) establishing conditions that persons must satisfy to be eligible to apply for income assistance or hardship assistance and the information, authorizations and verifications that must be provided in order to demonstrate that those conditions are satisfied;

(d) respecting applications for income assistance, hardship assistance and supplements and the information, authorizations and verifications that must be provided in support of those applications;

(e) defining persons or categories of persons who, or family units or categories of family units that, qualify for categories of income assistance, hardship assistance and supplements;

(f) governing eligibility for income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement;

(g) prescribing rules for determining the income and assets of a family unit;

(h) prescribing rules for determining the rate or amount of income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement;

(i) regulating the time and manner of providing income assistance, hardship assistance and supplements;

(j) specifying conditions on which income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement may be provided, including a condition that the income assistance, hardship assistance or supplement be provided on a repayable basis, and the consequences of failing to comply with those conditions;

(k) respecting the duties of persons who administer income assistance, hardship assistance or a supplement received by them for others;

(l) respecting the information, authorizations and verifications that must be provided for the purposes of entering into, amending, suspending, cancelling or auditing compliance with an employment plan;

(m) and (n) [Not in force.]

(o) prescribing the periods for which a family unit may be declared ineligible under section 10 (4) [information and verification], section 14 (3) (b) [consequences of not accepting or disposing of property] or the regulations;

(p) prescribing periods of ineligibility for the purposes of sections 13 (2) (b) [consequences of not meeting employment-related obligations] and 14 (2) [consequences of not accepting or disposing of property].

(q) [Repealed 2015-23-55.]

(3) Without limiting subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

(a) specifying the amounts and duration of a reduction under section 9 (5) [employment plan], section 10 (4) (a) or (5) [information and verification], section 13 (2) (a) [consequences of not meeting employment-related obligations], section 14 (3) (a) [consequences of not accepting or disposing of property] or the regulations;

(b) [Repealed 2015-23-55.]

(b.1) prescribing amounts and periods for the purpose of section 15.1 (2);

(c) prescribing additional circumstances in which the minister may declare a family unit ineligible for, or may reduce, income assistance, hardship assistance and supplements;

(d) governing investigations and audits to determine eligibility for income assistance, hardship assistance and supplements and to ensure compliance with this Act and the regulations;

(e) prescribing, for the purpose of section 28 (2) [liability for and recovery of debts under Act], the circumstances in which repayment agreements may be entered into or assignments accepted, and the terms to be included in those agreements or assignments;

(f) prescribing enactments for the purpose of sections 28 (1) (b) [liability for and recovery of debts under Act] and 29 (2) [no garnishment, attachment, execution or seizure];

(g) specifying time limits and other rules for the purpose of a reconsideration under section 17 [reconsideration and appeal rights];

(h) governing qualifications and criteria for appointment to the tribunal of

(i) the chair,

(ii) a vice chair, and

(iii) other members;

(i) specifying time limits and other requirements for the purposes of commencing or conducting an appeal under Part 3 [appeals];

(j) respecting the functions of the chair or vice chairs;

(k) respecting reinstatement of income assistance and supplements pending a reconsideration or an appeal;

(l) prescribing the period within which a hearing must be conducted for the purpose of section 22 (3) [panels of the tribunal to conduct appeals];

(m) respecting the consolidation of 2 or more appeals to be heard at a single appeal hearing;

(n) prescribing the practices and procedures of a panel;

(o) respecting functions of a panel chair;

(p) respecting consequences of non compliance with rules governing appeals;

(q) defining a quorum of a panel;

(r) respecting the confidentiality of documents submitted to, and decisions made by, a panel;

(s) respecting the withdrawal or replacement of panel members in the course of a hearing under section 22 [panels of the tribunal to conduct appeals];

(t) respecting service and delivery of documents or the giving of notice under this Act;

(u) respecting terms or conditions that are to be included in information-sharing agreements under section 30 (2) or (2.1) [agreements];

(v) respecting the delegation of the powers, duties and functions of the minister;

(w) respecting deductions under section 28 (1) (b) [liability for and recovery of debts under Act], including, without limitation,

(i) prescribing the manner of deduction,

(ii) prescribing the duration and the minimum and maximum amounts of a deduction,

(iii) exempting a category of family units from the minimum amount of a deduction prescribed under subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph in circumstances or on conditions the Lieutenant Governor in Council prescribes, and

(iv) for certainty, establishing categories under subsection (4) (c) of this section that relate, without limitation, in whole or in part to inclusion in the family unit of a person who is or has been convicted of an offence

(A) under this Act or the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act, or

(B) under the Criminal Code in relation to obtaining money, under this Act or the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act, by fraud or false or misleading representation;

(x) respecting any matter that, by this Act, is to be prescribed, determined or regulated by regulation;

(y) defining any word or expression used in this Act or the regulations.

(4) In making regulations under this Act, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may do one or more of the following:

(a) delegate a matter to a person;

(b) confer a discretion on a person;

(c) make different regulations for different groups or categories of persons or family units.

Repealed

36   [Repealed 2024-4-15.]

Regulations respecting eligibility and assignment of maintenance rights

37   (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations governing the assignment of maintenance rights, including the following regulations:

(a) [Repealed 2024-4-16.]

(b) specifying maintenance rights that may be assigned to the minister, including, but not limited to, any of the following rights:

(i) to make an application under an enactment of British Columbia for a maintenance order;

(ii) to enter into a maintenance agreement;

(iii) to make or defend an application for variation of a maintenance order or maintenance agreement;

(iv) to receive payment under

(A) a maintenance order made under the Divorce Act (Canada) or otherwise, or

(B) a maintenance agreement;

(v) to enforce a maintenance order or maintenance agreement;

(vi) to file a maintenance order or maintenance agreement under the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act;

(c) governing how and to whom notice of an assignment of maintenance rights must be given;

(d) governing how long an assignment of maintenance rights remains in effect for different categories of maintenance rights;

(e) prescribing terms that are to be included in an assignment of maintenance rights and the consequences of failure to comply with those terms;

(f) determining the amounts that may

(i) be deducted from maintenance payments received under an assignment of maintenance rights, and

(ii) be retained by the government

to recover the amount of income assistance or hardship assistance provided in place of maintenance while the assignment is in effect;

(g) respecting the method of accounting to a recipient for payments received under an assignment of maintenance rights and for deductions made from those payments.

(2) [Repealed 2024-4-16.]

(3) A regulation under subsection (1) (d) may provide that an assignment of maintenance rights remains in effect for a specified period after the family unit that became eligible for income assistance or hardship assistance as a result of the assignment ceases to receive either income assistance or hardship assistance.

(4) While an assignment of maintenance rights is in effect, the minister

(a) may make an application or bring a proceeding relating to the assigned rights in the name of the government or in the name of the person who made the assignment, and

(b) has the same right to be notified and to participate in any proceedings relating to the assigned rights that, but for that assignment, the person who made the assignment would have had.

(5) While an assignment of maintenance rights is in effect, the person who made the assignment is not entitled to exercise any of the assigned rights

(a) except to the extent authorized in writing by the minister, and

(b) subject to any terms or conditions specified in the authorization.

Repealed

38   [Repealed 2015-23-56.]

Regulations respecting pilot projects

38.1   (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations establishing pilot projects to research, test and evaluate matters relating to this Act.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may, for the purposes of establishing a pilot project, make regulations respecting the following:

(a) persons or classes of persons to which a pilot project applies;

(b) family units or classes of family units to which a pilot project applies;

(c) the duration of a pilot project;

(d) monitoring and evaluation of a pilot project.

(3) Without limiting subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may, for the purposes of establishing a pilot project, exercise all of the regulation-making powers under this Act.

Part 5 — Transitional and Consequential Provisions

Application of sections 35 and 36 of the Interpretation Act

39   Subject to sections 41 and 42, sections 35 and 36 (1) of the Interpretation Act apply to all matters affected by the repeal of a former Act and its replacement by this Act.

Repealed

40   [Repealed 2024-4-19.]

Recipients under former Act deemed recipients under this Act

41   (1) On the date this section comes into force, a recipient of income assistance, a youth allowance or benefits under a former Act

(a) is deemed to have applied for and be in receipt of income assistance or supplements under this Act, and

(b) in order to continue receiving income assistance or the supplement, must satisfy the initial and continuing conditions of eligibility established under this Act that apply in respect of the income assistance or supplement.

(2) On the date this section comes into force, a recipient of hardship assistance under the BC Benefits (Income Assistance) Act, other than a person with disabilities,

(a) is deemed to have applied for and received hardship assistance under this Act, and

(b) in order to receive further hardship assistance, must satisfy the conditions of eligibility established under this Act for hardship assistance.

(3) Despite a final decision of a tribunal, or the BC Benefits Appeal Board, under the BC Benefits (Appeals) Act, the minister may

(a) adjust an amount of income assistance, youth allowance, hardship assistance or a benefit,

(b) alter a category of income assistance, youth allowance, hardship assistance or a benefit provided to or for a recipient referred to in subsections (1) and (2) and the recipient's dependants, and

(c) alter the category of person of the recipient or the recipient's dependants

to equal the amounts or categories of income assistance, hardship assistance or supplements the recipient and the recipient's dependants are eligible for under this Act.

(4) An adjustment or alteration referred to in subsection (3) (a) or (b) may be, as applicable,

(a) an increase, a decrease or a discontinuance of an amount, or

(b) a change in, or a discontinuance or an addition of, a category of income assistance, hardship assistance or supplements.

Indebtedness under former Act

42   On the date this section comes into force, a person

(a) whose family unit does not include a person with disabilities, and

(b) who is indebted to the government under a former Act or the Guaranteed Available Income for Need Act, R.S.B.C. 1979, c. 158,

continues to be liable on the same terms to the government for the amount of indebtedness outstanding on that date and the debt is deemed to have been incurred and to be owing under this Act.

Repealed

43-47   [Repealed 2024-4-19.]

Transitional — repeal of section 15

47.1   (1) In this section:

"Act offence" means an offence under this Act or the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act;

"criminal code offence" means an offence under the Criminal Code in relation to obtaining money, under this Act or the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act, by fraud or false or misleading representation.

(2) On and after the date section 15 is repealed, a family unit to which consequences referred to in section 15 (1), (2) or (3) applied immediately before that date

(a) is not ineligible for income assistance by reason only of a consequence imposed under that section, and

(b) is not subject to any consequence imposed on the family unit under that section.

(3) For certainty, a family unit described in subsection (2) is liable under section 27 to repay to the government the amount or value of, as applicable,

(a) an overpayment in respect of which a person in the family unit has been convicted of a criminal code offence or Act offence referred to in section 15 (1) or (2), as that section read immediately before its repeal, or

(b) an overpayment that is the subject of a judgment referred to in section 15 (3), as that section read immediately before its repeal.

Consequential Amendments and Repeals

Section(s) Affected Act
48 BC Benefits (Appeals) Act
49-50 BC Benefits (Child Care Subsidy) Act
51 BC Benefits (Income Assistance) Act
52 BC Benefits Statutes Amendment Act, 1997
53 BC Benefits (Youth Works) Act
54 Cemetery and Funeral Services Act
55 Child Care BC Act
56 Community Care Facility Act
57 Criminal Injury Compensation Act
58 Debtor Assistance Act
59 Evidence Act
60 Family Maintenance Enforcement Act
61 Family Relations Act
62 Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
63 Hospital Act
64 Vancouver Charter

Commencement

65   This Act comes into force by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.