Supporting Affordability for BC Families

Family

There are plenty of programs and supports for individuals and families in BC. However, finding those supports can be tough. This site should make your search easier. Whether you’re looking for a doctor, a food bank, housing or bus passes, this site provides easy access to a range of federal, provincial and community-based programs and services for low-income individuals and families in British Columbia.

Table of Contents/Index

List of resources and services:

Benefits through Taxes

  • It’s important to file your income taxes even if you have no income to report. See our factsheet on the types of tax benefits you could receive.

Child Care

  • I need to find daycare for my child. Find child care near you.
  • I need help paying for daycare. The Child Care Subsidy Program offers low-income families up to $750/month to help cover the costs of child care in BC. My child has special needs. Can I get help with daycare costs? The Special Needs Supplement provides up to an additional $150 per month towards the cost of child care for children with special needs.
  • I need more information about child care in BC. The Child Care in BC page offers a list of resources, programs and services available to BC families. I have a toddler. What programs and activities we can do together? The Early Childhood page offers a list of programs and services that support early learning, literacy and family programs.

Education & Skills Training

  • I need a job. WorkBC can help you find a job, explore careers and improve your skills.
  • Where can I get help with finding a job? WorkBC Employment Services Centres deliver the Employment Program of BC (EPBC), which provides services and supports to unemployed British Columbians.
  • I am interested in learning a trade. Where can I get more information? The Industry Training Authority provides trades training and apprenticeship opportunities for British Columbians.
  • I want to upgrade my skills/learn new skills – where can I get more information? BC Labour Market Programs help people gain skills and find employment.
  • I need help with reading and writing. The Province supports non-profit organizations, in partnership with post-secondary education institutions, to deliver adult literacy programs.
  • I want to finish high school/upgrade or take extra high school courses to find a better job/move on to post-secondary education and training. Where do I start?
    • Adult Basic Education in BC provides information about the types of programs and supports offered to adult learners in BC.
    • The LearnNowBC portal includes a course finder to help you decide what to take.
    • See a complete list of the adult literacy programs available throughout the province.
    • I want to finish high school. Adult learners (aged 18+) can enroll in the Adult Graduation Diploma Program and take courses at school district continuing education centres, or as part of the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program at a post-secondary institution.
    • Is there money available for tuition for adult upgrade courses? If you are eligible, the BC government may be able to help you pay for books, supplies and other costs through an Adult Upgrading Grant.
  • Programs for youth who are struggling and need help:
    • Youth programs provide help for youth and families facing crises, including programs and services for youth who are currently, or formerly, in government care.
    • At-Risk Youth Initiatives help support at-risk youth and help to prevent future crime.
  • Programs for high school students in BC:
  • Here are just some of the youth employment programs offered in BC:
    • BladeRunners provides unemployed youth at risk – 70 per cent of whom are Aboriginal – with job readiness training and on-the-job work experience.
    • Get Youth Working offers hiring incentives for employers and funding for on-the-job training for young British Columbians (aged 15-29).
    • Youth Mean Business helps unemployed youth get the skills they need to successfully create their own business.
    • The BC Centre for Employment Excellence site includes links to youth programs and services throughout BC.
  • I need a student loan. Where can I get more information? StudentAid BC helps with the cost of post-secondary education through student loans and non-repayable grants and scholarships.
    • Thinking about training for a trade? The BC Access Grant for Labour Market Priorities provides grant funding to encourage eligible students to attend targeted high-priority programs at eligible BC public post-secondary institutions.
    • How can I get part of my student loans paid for?
      • Through the BC Completion Grant, full-time students who successfully complete each year of their studies may have the BC portion of their Canada-BC integrated student loan debt reduced.
      • Recent graduates in select in-demand professions can have their BC student loans forgiven through the BC Loan Forgiveness Program.
    • I am a graduate student and my loans are piling up. How can I get part of my student loans paid for? The BC Completion Grant for Graduates is designed to help eligible students reduce their BC student loan debt upon graduation.
    • I can’t afford to pay for my child’s tuition. Can they access any funding for school? The Canada Student Grant for Students from Low-Income Families gives extra help to eligible students from low-income families.
    • I want to go to college/university, but I have kids. Is there a program that can help me pay for it? If you are a full-time student, the Canada Student Grant for Students with Dependents may be able to help with the cost of your education.
  • Here are just some of the programs and supports available to youth in and from government care:
    • AgedOut helps prepare youth in care for the realities of life once they reach age 19. The site will help you get ready for life on your own, take care of yourself and learn useful life skills.
    • The Adoptive Families Association of BC lists Scholarships, Bursaries and Tuition Waivers for youth in government care.
    • The Youth Educational Assistance Fund provides grants of up to $5,500 to students (aged 19-24) who are former youth in care.
    • The Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program is only for former youth in care, and provides financial support for you to finish high school, go to college or university, or take a rehabilitation program.
  • Here are some of the programs and supports available to students with a disability:

Seniors

  • SeniorsBC is a one stop-shop to find resources and supports for elderly people in BC. From monthly senior supplement payments, to housing and disability supports and bus passes, SeniorsBC provides valuable information on programs available to seniors across the province.

Family Programs and Income Supports

Food security

  • Can I can get a discount on fresh fruits and veggies for my family? The Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program (FMNCP) provides coupons to low-income pregnant women, families with children, and seniors to buy select BC foods at local farmers’ markets.
  • I can’t afford food for my family. Where can I go to get help? Food Banks BC represents 96 food banks across the province. Visit the site to find the one closest to you.
  • Are there programs that will help me cook healthy food for my family? The Food Skills for Families (FSF) program through the Canadian Diabetes Association teaches healthy eating and cooking skills.

Health Care

  • Accessing Health Care in BC will help you find a healthcare service provider near you or apply for financial aid when you need to travel for medical purposes.
  • Enrolment in the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) is mandatory for all eligible residents and their dependents.
    • How much does it cost? Premiums are based on income.
  • PharmaCare helps BC residents with the cost of eligible prescription drugs, and certain medical supplies and pharmacy services.
  • Is there a program that will help me with my child’s dental/optical costs? The BC Healthy Kids Program helps low-income families with the costs of basic dental care and prescription eyewear for their children.
  • The BC Dental Program provides basic dental services to income assistance clients who are least likely to become financially independent and to children (under the BC Healthy Kids program).
  • Where can I find the health forms I need in BC? As you engage with the BC healthcare system, many services will require you to complete and submit health forms to the provincial government.
  • Who do I call if I need timely health information? HealthLink BC provides non-emergency health information – call 8-1-1 or visit www.healthlinkbc.ca. For all health-related emergencies, please call 9-1-1.
  • I need to travel for medical tests/procedures. Can I get some of the costs covered? The Travel Assistance Program (TAP BC) is available to eligible BC residents who need to travel outside their home community for non-emergency, physician-referred specialist medical care.

Mental Health

  • Children, youth and adults:
    • At HealthLink BC, you will find medically-approved information on more than 5,000 health topics, symptoms, medications, and tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You can also search our online Directory to find health services near you.
    • The BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services (BCMHSUS), an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), provides a diverse range of specialized and one-of-a-kind mental health and substance use services for children, adolescents and adults across the province.
    • The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre is a provincial resource centre that provides mental health and substance use information, resources, and peer support to children, youth and their families from across BC. We also provide support to people of all ages with eating disorders. The Province and the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre also partnered to create the Information and Resources Toolkit that provides information on many of the best mental health resources available in BC.
  • Child and youth:
    • On the MCFD Child and Youth Mental Health (CYMH) website you can access valuable information regarding accessing provincial services, links to additional tools and resources, as well as resiliency programs including FRIENDS for Life.
    • The new online map of BC child and youth mental health and substance use services provides information on approximately 350 services that are provided directly through the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), health authorities and community agencies. Only services funded by MCFD and health authorities are shown on the map.
    • The F.O.R.C.E. Society for Kids' Mental Health is a provincial organization that provides families with an opportunity to speak with other families who understand and may be able to offer support or advice on what has worked for them. The F.O.R.C.E. also provides families and professionals with information, tools, and tips on how to support and assist children with mental health difficulties.

Housing

  • I need to find a cheap place to live. Find Housing and support options through BC Housing.
  • BC also has Emergency Housing options for those at risk of homelessness or in need of emergency transition housing.
    • Access an Emergency Shelter.
    • The BC Shelter Map will help you find an emergency shelter near you.
    • Women’s Transition Housing & Supports help women (with or without dependent children) who have experienced violence or are at risk of experiencing violence by providing temporary shelter/housing and support services.
  • Where can I find off-reserve housing? If you or someone in your household has Aboriginal ancestry, Aboriginal Housing Providers may be able to help you find a place to live.
  • I need to make some changes to my home. Are there programs that can help? The Home Adaptations for Independence Program provides up to $20,000 per home to help low-income seniors and people with disabilities to modify their homes.
  • My rent is really expensive. Can I get help? The Rental Assistance Program (RAP) helps families earning less than $35,000/year to pay for rent in the private market.
  • Seniors’ Rental Housing provides affordable housing options for British Columbians aged 55+ or for persons with disabilities.
  • Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) provides low-income seniors (aged 60+) with direct cash assistance to subsidize their rent in the private market.
  • What is subsidized housing? Subsidized Housing is long-term housing with rent geared to income (30% of household total gross income, subject to minimum rent based on # of people).
  • What is supportive housing? Supportive Housing helps bridge the gap between independent housing and residential care.

New to British Columbia?

Transportation

  • From small towns to large urban centres, BC Transit connects over 50 million customers in communities across the province every year.
  • Can I get a discount on bus passes? The BC Bus Pass Program offers a reduced cost, annual bus pass for low-income seniors and individuals receiving disability assistance from the Province of BC.
  • I need to travel for medical tests/procedures. Can I get some of the costs covered? The Travel Assistance Program (TAP BC) is available to eligible BC residents who need to travel outside their home community for non-emergency, physician-referred specialist medical care.

Resources and Publications

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