Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Your Guide to Employment and Assistance

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The BC Employment and Assistance program assists British Columbians by helping people move from income assistance to sustainable employment, and by providing income assistance to those who are unable to fully participate in the workforce.

The ministry has a responsibility to ensure that available resources go to those people who need them most. That is why applicants are expected to take advantage of all other sources of income and assets before qualifying.

People with disabilities who can work are supported by specialized employment programs that assist them to work as they are able. Continuous assistance is also available to those in need who are not expected to gain independence through employment.

Personal responsibility and active participation are the key principles of BC Employment and Assistance. Employable applicants are expected to look for work before they receive assistance and, where able, people receiving income assistance are expected to complete an Employment Plan, seek work and participate in employment programs, so they may reach their goal of self-reliance.

Who is Eligible?

If a person is:

  • out of work or earning very little
  • awaiting other income
  • unable to work, or
  • in immediate need of food, shelter or urgent medical attention

he or she may be able to receive income assistance or be referred to employment opportunities. Eligibility and monthly assistance rates depend on income and asset levels and the number of people in the family unit. If it is determined that an applicant has an immediate need, the immediate need will be addressed within the same business day. Hardship assistance may be issued in some situations when an individual is not eligible for income assistance.

What is the Work Search?

Prior to the eligibility interview date, you are expected to look for employment. The length of the work search period is:

  • five-weeks if you have never received income assistance or disability assistance before
  • three-weeks if you have received income assistance or disability assistance before

You are exempt from the work search if you have reached 65 years of age, if you are fleeing an abusive spouse or relative, or if you or any person in your family unit is a person with disabilities (see for more information).
If you or anyone in your family unit has an immediate need for food, shelter or urgent medical attention, you may be eligible for hardship assistance while you complete your work search.
During the work search period, you will need to:

  • complete an orientation;
  • access other potential sources of income such as family, friends and the community;
  • collect the documents you need for the application interview; and
  • keep a detailed record of your search on the Work Search Activities Record.

How to Apply


  • Complete the Self-Serve Assessment and Application Tool and orientation  at , call 1-866-866-0800 or visit an Employment and Income Assistance office.
    If you still want to proceed...
  • Complete and submit Stage 1 HSD0080Aconsent form and obtain a copy of the Work Search Guidelines, Work Search Activities Record and Document Checklist, and receive an eligibility interview date.
  • Gather the documentation required as indicated on the checklist.
  • If required, do the work search and contact your local office as directed for a review of your work search progress.
  • Attend the eligibility interview and provide documentation and report any changes.
  • If eligible, discuss next steps and if applicable, develop employment plan.
  • If not eligible, discuss reasons.


  • Provide general information and orientation.
  • Create a file, conduct third-party checks and provide date for eligibility interview.
  • Review client status at 14 days for the three-week work search  (or 21 days for the five-week work search) and provide eligibility interview.
  • Provide eligibility decision.
  • If not eligible, discuss reasons, advise of right to reconsideration and provide reconsideration package/options.


All applicants must complete the orientation, either online or in-person, that outlines work search requirements, job search tips and the application process. There are a few exceptions to this requirement, including applicants who:

  • have a physical or mental condition that prevents them from completing it; or
  • are 65 or more years of age.

The orientation will also provide details about the necessary documents, income and asset levels, eligibility rules and work search expectations when applying for BC Employment and Assistance.

The Self-Serve Assessment and Application Tool includes an orientation on the BC Employment and Assistance Program.  To access the Self-Serve Assessment and Application Tool, visit the ministry web site at:

 Details are also available at a Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation office by calling toll-free: 1-866-866-0800.

What to Bring to the Eligibility Interview

If you do not find employment during your work search period, and you return to the ministry for an eligibility interview, ministry staff will:

  • verify the information you provide;
  • determine your eligibility for income assistance;
  • assess your readiness for employment; and
  • work with you to develop an Employment Plan.

You must bring proof of your work search activities, including a current resume and a record of employers contacted, along with other required documentation. Information from the Work Search Activities Record will assist you and your employment and assistance worker in determining your level of job readiness.

The Application form is a legal document which lists your income, assets, family situation, and expenses. When you sign the form, you agree that all the information is correct. The ministry has legal authority to confirm the information you have given.

Employment Programs

The Employment Program of B.C. helps people find work and provide stability for their families through a wide range of integrated employment services and supports. The first step in accessing these services and supports is to contact a WorkBC Employment Services Centre. To find a WorkBC Centre near you visit:

There are some exceptions to the requirement to seek work while on assistance, such as a single parent with a child under the age of three, or a person with a disability or persistent multiple barriers. If you feel you should be temporarily exempt from being required to seek work, talk to your employment and assistance worker.

Other Assistance

As an income assistance recipient, you may be eligible for other forms of assistance including:

  • Disability Assistance
  • Identification Fees
  • Security Deposit
  • Emergency Moving Benefit
  • Natal Supplement
  • Diet Assistance
  • Christmas Supplement
  • School Start-Up Supplement
  • Camp Fees
  • Crisis Supplement
  • Co-Operative Housing Association Share Purchase Supplement
  • Assistance with Transportation Costs for medical appointments, paternity testing and/or court attendance
  • Guide Animal Supplement

For more information on these programs visit:

For More Information

Contact the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation by calling toll-free: 1-866-866-0800
For more information on these programs visit: