1,000 people still owed

Almost a year after it was determined the British Columbia government failed to follow the law on income assistance payments, the province's ombudsperson says about 1,000 people still haven't been paid.

Jay Chalke released an update Thursday on his May 2018 report that found the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction improperly imposed a one-month waiting period on those who had earned extra income while getting assistance benefits.

Chalke said last year in his report that about 2,600 people were denied payments totalling almost $658,000.

A statement from Chalke said the ministry had committed to reimbursing those people by Oct. 1 last year, but there are almost 1,000 people still entitled to payments totalling more than $225,000.

The Ombudsperson's report said imposing a one-month waiting period for the earnings exemption was contrary to the employment and assistance regulation.

Chalke said he's calling on the ministry to intensify efforts to locate the remaining individuals and pay them the money that they are due.

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson said in a statement that the government is committed to compensating every person who did not receive the exemption.

He said more than 1,650 people have already been reimbursed.

"There have been difficulties locating the remaining individuals," said Simpson. "They are no longer on assistance and no longer living at the address we have for them. Still, we continue to look for them to ensure they receive fair payment that dates back to a poor policy decision made in 2012."

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