Immediate Needs

Overview

At the beginning of the Stage 1 application process, staff will be proactive in determining whether an applicant has an immediate need for food, shelter or urgent medical attention.

If it is determined that an applicant has an immediate need, their eligibility will be determined on an urgent basis. An applicant will be assessed as to whether they are exempt from the requirement to complete a work search.  An applicant who is exempt from this requirement will proceed directly to Stage 2 of the application process. 

Those applicants with an immediate need who are not exempt from the requirement to complete a work search will proceed directly to Stage 2 of the application process and be assessed for hardship assistance.  Recipients assessed as eligible for Hardship Assistance - Immediate Needs – Work Search Required will receive hardship assistance while they complete either a three- or five-week work search.

An assessment for an immediate need must be conducted for applicants applying for assistance under the Employment and Assistance Regulation or Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Regulation.

Policy

Effective: October 1, 2012

During Stage 1 of the application process, staff must determine whether an applicant has an immediate need for food, shelter, or urgent medical attention.  Applicants will be considered to have an immediate need if they have one or more of the following:
 

  • An immediate need for food.  The availability of food banks is not to be considered as negating an immediate need for food.
  • An immediate shelter need.  This includes, but is not limited to, existing or impending hydro disconnect, eviction notice, or staying at a hostel, emergency shelter, or transition house with no suitable accommodation to move to in the immediate future. The availability of hostels, emergency shelters, or transition houses is not to be considered as negating an immediate need for shelter.
  • An immediate need for urgent medical attention.  This includes, but is not limited to, needing prescriptions from a medical doctor for medication or supplies, or needing medical transportation. 

An immediate need does not need to persist for a full three-week or five-week period or any minimum period of time.

In determining whether a need is immediate, applicants will have had to exhaust all personal assets and available income. An applicant’s pending income must not be taken into consideration in determining whether he or she has an immediate emergency need unless the pending income is expected in time to meet the immediate need.  The availability of shelters and food banks is not to be considered as negating an immediate need.

Applicants who are otherwise exempt from the work search may also have an immediate need. In such a case, the immediate need takes precedence in determining priority for an eligibility interview. [see Related Links – Work Search] 

Applicants who are determined to have an immediate need for food, shelter, or urgent medical attention, are not required to complete the work search prior to proceeding to Stage 2 of the application. The applicant must be assessed for eligibility for hardship assistance – Immediate Needs – Work Search Required. If an eligibility interview cannot be completed in time to meet the immediate need, then staff must ensure the applicant’s immediate need is addressed within the same business day.

Staff must ensure the applicant is provided with or informed of and directed to other available resources (e.g., food/sundries vouchers, bus tickets for local travel, shelter referral, providing funds for urgent medical attention such as transportation or referrals to medical centres or Medical Services Plan (MSP), etc.) until an intake interview can be held to determine eligibility.  Meeting the immediate need in the interim does not mean the applicant no longer requires an expedited START review and eligibility interview.

Note:  Where food/sundries vouchers are issued, they should be only used to meet the immediate need while waiting for a determination of eligibility.

Eligible recipients will be provided with hardship assistance while they complete either a three- or five-week work search. [see Related Links – Immediate Needs – Work Search Required and Work Search.]

Effective: October 1, 2012

While not an exhaustive list, the following are some examples of circumstances where an applicant has an immediate need:
 

  • the applicant is relying on community resources (food banks or emergency shelters) for basic food needs
  • the applicant is staying at a hostel, or temporary emergency shelter, with no suitable accommodation to move to in the immediate future, and the applicant's ability to secure such accommodation depends on being in receipt of assistance
  • the applicant has a prescription from a medical doctor for medication or medical supplies that will be required immediately and the applicant’s ability to secure them depends on being in receipt of assistance
  • the applicant is a pre-release prisoner (assessments for pre-release prisoners are to be completed as per provincial protocol) 

Procedures

Effective:  June 26, 2009

For clients with language barriers who are unable to comprehend or communicate through written or spoken English, the ministry can provide access to contracted interpretation services by telephone and, on a case-by-case basis, in person. 

[For information on how to access interpretation services, see Related Links – Individual Case Management.]

Effective:  October 22, 2007

Staff must be proactive in determining whether an applicant has an immediate need for food, shelter or urgent medical attention, as not all applicants will identify themselves as having an immediate need.  

To obtain the information required to accurately assess whether an applicant has an immediate need, staff must proactively engage applicants in a discussion about their food, shelter and medical needs.  Staff must record the decision of the assessment.

The following are some examples of appropriate questions:
 

  • Shelter:
    • Do you have a place to stay tonight? Tomorrow? Next week? The next three weeks? (Remember emergency shelters, hostels or transition houses are not considered as meeting an immediate need.)
    • Where did you stay last night?
    • Are you able to pay your rent this month?
    • How flexible is your landlord about late rent?  Do you think you may be able to resolve this with your landlord? Have you tried approaching the landlord?
    • Have you received a disconnection notice from any essential utility (e.g. B.C. Hydro)? When? Do you have it with you?
    • Have you tried to speak to utility company about the disconnection notice? Are they willing to be flexible? Do you think you may be able to make any arrangement with them for late payment?
    • Are you awaiting admission to a treatment centre?
       
  • Food:
    • Do you have any food?
    • How much food do you have? What sort of food do you have?
    • How long do you think it will last you?
    • Has your doctor told you that you have any special dietary needs (e.g. diabetes, high protein, etc.)? What sort of needs?
    • How did you manage last night/week/month?
       
  • Medical Needs:
    • Do you have any medical conditions? What are they? What sort of treatment do you normally get for your medical conditions?
    • Do you require any medicine or other medical treatment for which you need a prescription?
    • How much medicine do you have left?  How long will it last you?
    • When does your prescription next need to be filled?
    • Do you have a medical plan that would cover this prescription? Do any of your family members have a medical plan which covers you for this prescription?
       
  • Other Resources:
    • Do you have any money or other property assets that could be used to meet your immediate needs? (Bank accounts? RRSP’s? Bonds?) 

If a staff member feels that an applicant may have a mental health or other medical problem or some other reason which may make them unable or reluctant to disclose an immediate need, the staff member must be proactive and sensitive in questioning and then apply their best judgement in deciding whether an immediate need exists.

Effective:  October 22, 2007

There may be cases where an applicant will have an immediate need in the reasonably foreseeable future (e.g., eviction notice, disconnection notice, etc in the next few days). In these cases, staff should determine whether an applicant will soon have an immediate need, taking into consideration the likelihood and timing of the immediate need arising.
 

  • For example, if the applicant is staying with friends who are providing support and shelter for the next five days but the friends are moving on the 6th day, staff should treat that as an immediate need for shelter. The applicant should proceed directly to Stage 2 of the application process with an eligibility interview scheduled with sufficient time to meet the immediate need.
  • On the other hand, if the applicant indicates they are late with their rent, have previously been able to make arrangements with the landlord to pay after the due date and have not yet had any discussions with the landlord about willingness to accept late payment once again, then there may be less of a likelihood that an immediate need really does exist at this time.

Where it appears that an immediate need does not yet exist, or it is as yet unclear whether it may or may not arise in the future, applicants should be advised to contact the ministry if and when an immediate need does arise.

Staff must exercise their best judgement as to the likelihood and timing of a future immediate need in determining whether an expedited eligibility interview is warranted right away or whether the applicant should be asked to contact the ministry if and when the need for food, shelter or urgent medical attention becomes more certain or imminent.

Effective:  October 1, 2012

If an applicant has an immediate need, follow these steps:
 

  1. Proceed directly to Stage 2 of the application process and provide the applicant with an expedited eligibility interview.  [For more information on the application process, see Related Links - BC Employment and Assistance Application – Stage 1 – Prospecting.]
  2. If an eligibility interview cannot be completed in time to meet the immediate need, then staff must ensure the applicant’s immediate need is addressed within the same business day.  Staff must ensure the applicant is provided with or informed of and directed to other available resources (e.g., food/sundries vouchers, bus tickets for local travel, shelter referral, providing funds for urgent medical attention such as transportation, or referrals to medical centres or MSP, etc.) until an intake interview can be held to determine eligibility.  Meeting the immediate need in the interim does not mean the applicant no longer requires an expedited START review and eligibility interview.
  3. If an eligibility interview is completed and the applicant is eligible, issue assistance immediately.
  4. If an applicant with an immediate need meets all other conditions of eligibility for assistance except the required work search requirement, the applicant is to be assessed for hardship.  [see Related Links – Immediate Needs – Work Search Required and Work Search]
  5. All clients who have employment-related obligations, including those with an immediate need, are required to complete an Employment Plan (EP) as a condition of ongoing eligibility. An EP should be completed after the application for assistance is approved.  [see Related Links – Employment Plan].

Effective:  October 22, 2007

[see Related Links – BCEA Application – Stage 1 – Prospecting – Procedures]

Effective:  February 8, 2008

Where one-time food/sundries vouchers are issued to applicants, they should be only used to meet the immediate need while waiting for a determination of eligibility. Prior to issuing food/sundries vouchers, eligibility interview appointments must be booked for applicants.
 

  • At Stage 1, food/sundries vouchers are to be used to meet immediate needs only.
  • Issue the amount needed to meet the immediate need – i.e., maximum of $50 per file.
  • If the immediate needs are greater than $50 per file, staff must consult with the  Supervisor for approval. 
  • All sections of the food/sundries vouchers must be completed to be valid.
  • In exceptional circumstances, faxed copies of food and sundries vouchers will be accepted by FASB for payment provided they are sent directly to the supplier.
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