If you don't have enough money to pay for living expenses, are unable to work, or are in an immediate need of food, shelter, or medication, you might be able to get income assistance. Income assistance (or welfare) is a government program that helps cover daily costs. The support is there to help you transition to employment.
How you can get it
There are lots of reasons you might need income assistance. You can be any age to receive assistance. It can help you if:
- You don't have a job, or do not earn enough to survive
- You have money but need to wait for it to arrive
- You can't work at all
- You urgently need food, shelter or medical attention
The online Eligibility Estimator will help determine if you qualify.
Click the store icon in the top right corner of the application to save your assessment. You'll get an ID and make a password. Your information will only be stored for five days, so make sure to log in again before the time expires.
How do I apply for income assistance?
- Fill out the online application form. You'll need:
- The names and birthdates of your family members.
- Your shelter and utility costs.
- Other financial information, like bank account balances and tax assessments.
- To talk to someone about applying, visit an Employment and Assistance Office or call 1-866-866-0800.
- Search for work. You have to actively look for work for five weeks and keep track of your efforts on a Work Search Activities (pdf).
- Set up an interview. The Ministry will try twice to call you to set up an interview. If you don't answer or return the call, they'll cancel your application. If you don't have a phone they can call, you can call them to set up the interview at 1-866-866-0800 or go to the office in person.
- Have the interview. These can be done over the phone or in person. You'll need documents to verify who you are, your income, how much money you have, and your living arrangement. You'll also be asked about your work search, so be sure to have a copy of your activities record. Documents can be submitted online.
After you apply, you'll need to provide documents that back up your application:
- Income verification documents like a paystub or record of employment
- Shelter costs, like rent receipts and utility bills
- a SIN number
Income assistance is calculated based on the date of your application, so it's important to apply as soon as you need it. You can provide documents online or in person later in the process.
If you aren't eligible for income assistance but still need money, you could be eligible for something called hardship assistance. It's available if:
- You will get Employment Insurance but need support while you wait
- You have money in the future but need temporary help
- You have kids and a job, but still need a bit more help
- You have immediate needs that will help you find a job, like food, shelter, or clothes
- You do not have any ID
There are other situations you might be eligible which you can determine after you apply.
You might be able to apply for disability assistance for help. Check the Get disability assistance page for more.
You will have to actively look for work for:
- Five weeks if you’ve never received income assistance before
- Three weeks if you’re returning to income assistance
You will need to keep a record of your search on the Work Search Activities (PDF) form. The Find employment services can help you find a local WorkBC centre.
You might not have to do a work search under certain circumstances listed on the government site.