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Support Families: End BC PWD Spouse Restrictions!


The spouse restrictions on BC's disability assistance are damaging in many ways

By Spencer van Vloten

BC Disability


Kept Out Of Loving Relationships; Kept In Poverty 

  • At the provincial level in BC, having a spouse essentially prevents someone from receiving disability (BC PWD) or income assistance

  • Money a spouse earns is discounted from assistance payments to an extent that most with a working spouse will be unable to receive BC disability assistance, or their spouse will have to take a significant pay cut

  • A couple doesn't even have to be married to be considered spouses

  • Whereas 2-income families have become the norm to survive in today's economy, government policy works to prevent this arrangement for most persons on BC PDW or income assistance​

  • The implications are the following:

    • The government treats disabled persons like children, who are supposed to be cared for by a partner

    • The government is deterring disabled persons from entering close relationships

    • The government is encouraging financially dependent persons to stay in abusive relationships

    • Government policies are keeping disabled persons poor and isolated

    • These policies create barriers which non-disabled persons do NOT face

​How Removing The BC PWD Spouse Restriction Helps


Removing the spousal caps on BC PWD and income assistance would have the following benefits:

  • Improved financial situations

  • Greater independence

  • Less strained relationships

  • Safer relationships

  • Greater ability to contribute to the local economy

  • Improved mental and physical health through all of the above

  • A more equitable society, where people aren't punished for being disabled


Counterargument: Spouses contribute financially, so their money should count as their partner's

This is sometimes mentioned as a counterargument, but it's not a suitable response for the reasons already mentioned, which are reiterated here:

  • Two-income households are the norm today, and often necessary to survive in the current economy. The idea that persons with disabilities shouldn't be allowed to live in the same arrangement is prejudiced and absurd.

  • The spouse on which the disabled person is financially dependent often makes very little themselves

  • Current policy creates an unhealthy and paternalistic state of dependence. The person stripped of assistance is left with no income of their own, which can force them to stay in relationships that turn abusive.

  • Persons with disabilities are being held back from contributing to the economy, which is especially important now as businesses seek to rebuild


Removing The BC PWD Spouse Cap

Sign The Petition To Remove BC's PWD Spouse Cap

If you want to remove barriers which keep persons with disabilities IN poverty and OUT of supportive relationships, please add your support to the BC Disability petition to remove the spousal restriction; the petition is supported by Disability Alliance BC.

Read And Share The Stories

Read and share first-hand accounts about the struggle of living on current disability assistance rates. If you are comfortable, please share your own story.

  • I'm a person with a disability. I have been single 40+ years because of this spousal cap. It's been a very lonely existence and have discovered this has been detrimental to my overall health and mental health. - L

  • I've been single for 14 years... why? Because any man I date more than 3 times suddenly realizes that there is no future for us... not if he will have to support me if we ever move in together... and after 6 months he'd be considered my common law husband and then will be stuck caring for me for life. Then if he turns out to be an ass... I'd be stuck in a bad relationship because I would have no means to support myself if I had to leave. I can't risk homelessness or abuse because of no income. - A

  • I am not disabled but my wife is. I am hardly allowed to make anything before they cut her off and we are forced to live on what I make. Even with our combined incomes we struggle to get by. We will forever be trapped by this system because we've no way to better ourselves. -C

  • When I got married I lost all of my PWD monies. When my husband became abusive, I couldn't leave and had no money as he controlled it all. -D

  • I am in this situation as well. I moved in with my partner and it's so degrading to have to tell him I need all his financial info and signature every month as well as he owned a property with his family and we had to get all that info and hand it over. -M

  • This whole system is inhumane, restricting a disabled persons benefits because of their SPOUSES income? that's insane. She can earn 12,000 a year before my benefits get cut off. That's less than half of minimum wage! raising the benefits won't help me here, I need the income cap on spouses removed. -M

  • I have been with my significant other for 13 years. We cant live together cuz they expect him to fully support me and my 2 special needs children, which are not his - B

Contact Your MLA, the Premier, and Key Ministers About The BC PWD Spouse Cap


You can use the script below to contact your provincial government representatives 


Premier David Eby:
Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Sheila Malcolmson:

Finance Minister Katrine Conroy:

Find the email of your MLA by using this tool

RE: Removing spouse restrictions on BC disability assistance (PWD)

Dear [politician’s name],

My name is [name] and I am writing to you from [city / constituency] in order to urge you to ___ eliminate the spouse restrictions on disability (PWD) and income assistance.

(Optional: share your story about how the cap has been damaging to you or someone you know)

Poor and disabled people have been living in an ongoing crisis of poverty, inaccessibility and injustice for far too long. Cutting them off from assistance, simply for being with the person they love, only serves to keep disabled persons out of supportive relationships, and instead isolated, poor, and in many cases forced to stay with abusive partners whom they are dependent on.

By removing BC's PWD spouse restrictions, you will be eliminating a barrier to the financial and emotional well-being of persons with disabilities. 

Do the right thing and remove them. 

Thank you for your consideration.



Contact Us About BC PWD

If you want to share your thoughts, your story of living on BC disability assistance, or just want to connect, please send us a message through our contact form, or to!

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