11 2016 10 20 convention 2016 policy resolutions 10 12 2016 .pdf
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Reducing barriers to employment for social assistance recipients
BC Young Liberals
Through dedicated funding, individuals and families on various forms of social assistance are
encouraged to pursue all available work opportunities and gain the skills necessary for selfsufficiency. However, an existing aspect of this approach neglects recipients of assistance
who manage to find work - but cannot fully meet basic needs on their own - because of
“claw-backs”, the practice of reducing monthly assistance by the amount earned. The
amounts in question are objectively extraordinary small, yet they can determine whether a
recipient can afford groceries or household goods, pay a phone or internet bill, or buy gas,
all of which are crucial to job seeking activities.
For many, especially British Columbians with disabilities or persistent and multiple barriers
to employment, this practice disincentives work which could otherwise help improve quality
of life for recipients and their families. This flexibility of sometimes only a few hundred
dollars a month could play a massive role in supporting the physical and emotional health of
those on social assistance. When prevented from improving on amounts received from
social assistance, recipients are less likely to take the risks often necessary to gaining and
maintaining employment. For those unable to work full-time or earn enough independently
to afford the cost of living, employment claw-backs penalize initiative and further the
negative social, economic, and cultural implications of poverty; ultimately reducing
recipients’ likelihood of independence.
BC Liberal Value:
Initiatives to train and motivate people to pursue rewarding, family-supporting work are
vital towards province-wide economic growth and prosperity. Fundamentally, this means
eliminating barriers that prevent participation in the labor force.
Building on the success of the Single Parent Employment initiative, the BC Liberal
government ought to systematically review social assistance programs with the goal of
identifying and eliminating disincentives to seeking and maintaing employment.
Assessment of Impact:
By restoring the capacity for recipients of government assistance to pursue employment
options without being punished by reductions social assistance payments, we would be
allowing for a gradual shift to independence. Financial freedom does not happen overnight;
incorporating this reality into the framework for social services would address the gap
between total reliance, and gainful, fulfilling work.