Samantha Hilliard met with Chilliwack MLA John Martin when she heard her mat leave benefits were going to be taken off her partner's disability cheque. She felt compelled to fight for a change. This week the provincial government said they would no longer claw back benefits for those on EI maternity leave.

Samantha Hilliard met with Chilliwack MLA John Martin when she heard her mat leave benefits were going to be taken off her partner's disability cheque. She felt compelled to fight for a change. This week the provincial government said they would no longer claw back benefits for those on EI maternity leave.

Ending clawbacks for B.C. families welcomed in Chilliwack

B.C. became the second province after Quebec to exempt EI maternity and parental benefits from monthly provincial assistance this week

A pregnant Chilliwack woman was relieved to hear that the provincial government is no longer planning to claw back her EI maternity benefits.

Samantha Hilliard met with Chilliwack MLA John Martin a few months when she heard those hard-earned benefits were going to be taken off her partner’s disability cheque.

She felt compelled to fight for a change in policy, and to ask her MLA to oppose it on her behalf. As it stood, it would have cut their household income by more than half, and would have meant no mat leave for the Ann Davis employee.

“I am overjoyed that it was changed,” Hilliard said.

She had been stressed out trying to figure out how her family was going to make ends meet.

Now, after months of pressure the B.C. government relented this week, announcing that as of Oct. 1, they were making Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits and EI benefits for parents caring for critically ill children fully exempt for people on income and disability assistance.

“This will mean that I will get to participate as a new parent instead of jumping right back to work,” Hilliard said. “It takes a lot of the stress off of us.”

Hilliard’s plight and that of others facing the sting of this policy caught attention of NDP social critic Michelle Mungall and they fought it tooth and nail.

Mungall had something to say this week too, in the wake of the change that ends the clawback policy that had been “driving B.C. families deeper” into poverty.

“John Horgan and the B.C. New Democrats demanded that the government do the right thing for families by putting an end to their cruel policy of taking away parental leave and other Employment Insurance benefits from disabled British Columbians,” said Mungall in a statement. “It may have taken a looming election for Christy Clark to finally start paying attention to families affected by these clawbacks, but at least they will finally see a change.”

The provincial government announced Tuesday the changes will affect about 200 parents on income and disability assistance, and will provide additional financial support for those caring for a new-born, newly adopted, or critically ill child. B.C. is only the second province after Quebec to exempt EI maternity and parental benefits from monthly provincial assistance, according to the news release, and it builds on several other changes made in the past 18 months to support B.C. families.