Our government has made significant progress putting families first over the past year, and we will do more. We know every family wants to have the opportunity to grow, prosper and live in a safe community.
Most recently, Premier Christy Clark announced changes to our income and disability assistance programs. The changes, most of which will come into effect later this year, include increased earning exemptions for all income and disability assistance clients, asset increases across the board and better harmonization of policies with other jurisdictions across Canada. The changes also include expanding work search requirements by an extended period from three weeks to five weeks. And we are introducing mandatory tax filing for income assistance recipients to ensure families can receive every benefit available to them. A good paying, stable and secure job is one of the most important contributions to a healthy, happy and strong family.
Our government wants to ensure the most vulnerable are treated with dignity and respect. These changes will help families avoid the cycle of income assistance dependency but at the same time ensure those who need services get them. More ideas and actions will be put forward to support our commitment to supporting families in B.C. These family-first initiatives, part of the Families First agenda, will help support vulnerable families and provide them with the supports and tools they need to help participate more fully in their communities. The challenges that B.C. families face are linked to the issues we face together as a society: keeping the cost of government affordable; an aging population; affordable housing and services; protecting vulnerable families and children; and ensuring safe streets and communities. We are addressing these issues with fresh ideas and steadfast determination. We have built this plan on our commitment to a balanced budget and prudent fiscal management.
Our government is committed to making sure all British Columbians can fully benefit and participate in our growing and thriving economy. Jobs, families and open government are our government’s three priorities.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.