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Community Resources, Social Services & Nonprofit Sector (Vancouver)

This guide offers residents of Vancouver a community resource hub. How to get help and from whom, as well as how to start, run, and manage a nonprofit organization is included.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for welfare online? Use: Your Welfare Rights: How to Apply for Welfare

Do I qualify for Income Assistance on Reserve? Read: Income Assistance on Reserve in British Columbia

How do I know if I am eligible for Disability Assistance? BC Government: Disability Assistance

Who can help me navigate the government maze!!? a Community Advocate

As someone living with a disability, am I entitled to any tax credits? Disability Tax Credit

I currently receive the Persons with Disabilities benefits. What will happen to my income when I turn 65?  Transition from PWD Benefits to Old Age Benefits

(EI) Employment Insurance

Employment Insurance (EI) provides temporary financial assistance to unemployed Canadians who have lost their job through no fault of their own, while they look for work or upgrade their skills.

Canadians who are sick, pregnant, or caring for a newborn or adopted child, as well as those who must care for a family member who is seriously ill may also be receive financial support through Employment Insurance.

If you are eligible, you can apply for Employment Insurance through Employment and Social Development Canada

Applications are done online. If you need help, call Employment & Social Development Canada at 1-800-206-7218. You can apply online at any Service Canada Centre using one of the many Internet kiosks available. Go here: To find out when your local Service Canada Centre is open.

The government website provides a fair amount of detail on qualifications for EI  as well as the process: How to Apply

Please ask a librarian if you need help accessing the form. For more information, especially on the legalities, go to Clicklaw's Legal Help Guides for Employment Insurance

BC Welfare (Income Assistance)

In BC, the Income Assistance Program (also called welfare) provides support and shelter assistance for those who are eligible. For most people the program is temporary, but for some it may be a long-term need.

You may be eligible if you are:

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

To apply, go to the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

If you can’t complete the application online, call 1 866 866-0800 or visit your local office.

Welfare rules are tricky. For help applying try reading Legal Services Society's publication Your Welfare Rights: How to Apply for Welfare publication. It also provides information on how to appeal a ministry decision. The Central library has print copies that you can keep on level 2.

Disability Benefits

Provided by British Columbia's provincial government, disability assistance is for people who – through disability – cannot work or have difficulty working full-time. The government helps these people through financial aid, training programs and education. If you have disabilities, you may qualify for persons with disabilities (PWD) benefits.

To qualify:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • Your disability must be severe and be expected to last for two years, and
  • It must directly or significantly restrict your ability to perform daily living activities.

Also, because of your disability, you need:

  • Significant help from another person or
  • Help from an assistive device (e.g. a wheelchair), or
  • Help from an assistance animal.

Apply online through the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

You are also entitled to other services and financial benefits through the Federal Government. Service Canada has compiled a list of your benefits.

If you need help applying, The Disability Alliance BC helps people with disabilities to obtain BC disability benefits. They also help with the application process. Go to their Help Sheets page and you will find answers to a variety of questions like: how to appeal the denial of the PWD benefit; People with disabilities on Reserve; Rate Amounts; and more.

For further information Clicklaw offers multiple help guides on the topic of assistance for people with disabiities