Hardship assistance in BC: a guide

Posted on 24 May 2023

Written by Gillian Goldblatt

Unfortunately in Canada these days, it is all too easy to find yourself in over your head with debt. A rising cost of living, creeping interest rates, and some of the most expensive rents in the country in British Columbia mean that more and more Canadians are facing growing debt, and the average debt across the country by age is climbing. With that in mind, it is unsurprising that in BC, many residents are looking for hardship assistance. For certain individuals based in the province, hardship assistance in BC is available to those in need of essential support, who are not eligible for income or disability assistance. In this article, we share all you need to know about hardship assistance in BC, and what to do if your debts become too much. At Spergel, we have been helping Canadians on their journey to debt relief for over thirty years and are here to support you if you are struggling.

What hardship assistance in BC is available?

In BC, hardship assistance can be provided to those in need, who do not meet the eligibility criteria for income or disability assistance. Hardship assistance in BC is provided temporarily on a monthly basis. If you wish to reapply, you will need to do so each month and your eligibility will be checked each time. There are a few key scenarios for which hardship assistance may be provided:

  • For individuals awaiting Employment Insurance (EI) through Service Canada, or income from another source
  • For individuals fleeing conflict abroad, and in Canada via a temporary resident visa
  • For individuals in families lacking a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • For individuals with an immediate need for food, a home, or medical care
  • For individuals on strike or lockout, with a union that cannot provide
  • For individuals with assets or income in excess of exemption levels, without the assets or income immediately available; or that cannot reasonably cover basic needs

What is the eligibility criteria for hardship assistance in BC?

Eligibility for hardship assistance in BC must be reestablished each month, and beneficiaries are responsible for ensuring they meet the conditions of the hardship assistance. They also need to sign and comply with an Employment Plan, and will need to repay hardship assistance where necessary. In order to be eligible, there are a number of key criteria that must be met:

  • You need to be aged 19 or older;
  • You need to reside in BC;
  • You need to meet the citizenship requirements for income assistance; and
  • You need to meet any of the key scenarios listed above

How much do you get under hardship assistance?

Each applicant is not actually entitled to a specific amount of hardship assistance – the actual amount is at discretion, based on the financial circumstances of the applicant. That said, typically eligible applicants will receive the maximum rate for hardship. The Government of BC lists its maximum hardship rates on its website, indicating an amount of hardship support allowance depending on the size of family unit you may have.

Are care supplements included?

Supplements for addiction treatment and special care never used to be included in hardship assistance, but this all changed in 2020. Since then, these supplements are included for recipients of hardship assistance. Now, you can receive denture, diet, short term nutritional, tube feed nutritional, and natal supplements. Hardship assistance recipients can also access the same supplements used for alcohol or drug addiction treatments, as well as counselling and related services, as those who receive income assistance.

What if hardship assistance is not sufficient?

If you are struggling financially and do not know what to do next, speak to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee at Spergel. Our experienced team have helped over 100,000 Canadians to begin a fresh financial future. Unlike other bankruptcy firms, you will be assigned your very own Licensed Insolvency Trustee to walk you through your debt relief journey from beginning to end. They will begin with a free consultation to review your financial circumstances, and to understand your situation with compassion. They will then make you aware of your different debt relief options – some of the most common we see in Canada include the following:

  • A debt consolidation loan – a new loan that is taken out to condense others. It has the advantage of simplifying multiple other debts into one monthly payment, and can often reduce or eliminate the associated interest rate. Debt consolidation loans are a good option for those with multiple debts who will be able to repay their debt in full, but need structuring of their debt.
  • Consumer proposal – filing a consumer proposal is a legal form of debt settlement which can reduce your unsecured debt by up to 80%. It is the process of putting forward an affordable repayment amount to your creditors. Your Licensed Insolvency Trustee will negotiate with your creditors on your behalf. If accepted, you will only need to make your manageable monthly payment for a period of up to five years. Advantages of a consumer proposal include the ability to keep your assets, and full protection from your creditors. At Spergel, we have a 99% acceptance rate on any consumer proposals we file, which means you have a 99% chance of a huge reduction in your overall debt.
  • Bankruptcy – bankruptcy is the process of assigning any non-exempt assets over to your Licensed Insolvency Trustee in exchange for the clearance of your unsecured debt. Your Licensed Insolvency Trustee will sell the assets so that any proceeds can go towards the repayment of your creditors. Bankruptcy is the best way to gain a fresh financial future in Canada. It has a number of advantages including clearing all unsecured debt, and offering protection from creditors via a stay of proceedings.

If you are struggling financially or have more questions about hardship assistance in BC, book a free consultation with one of our experienced Licensed Insolvency Trustees at Spergel. We have been helping Canadians on their journey to debt relief for over thirty years, and we are here to help you too. Reach out today – you owe it to yourself.


Gillian Goldblatt

Gillian Goldblatt is a Chartered Professional Accountant and Insolvency and Restructuring Professional. She is also an award-winning LIT (Licensed Insolvency Trustee) and Vice-Chair of the Ontario Association of Insolvency & Restructuring Practitioners Board. As Spergel's resident expert on debt consolidation and financial literacy, you can find Gillian being interviewed regularly on popular Canadian news programs when she's not at the office helping individuals and businesses get back on track.

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