Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to the questions we are most frequently asked at our centre regarding government assistance for people with disabilities, health supports, affordable housing, and much more!
- Where do I get the forms to apply for PWD assistance?
You have to go through a three-step process to get the forms. First, you must get a BCeID and create a MySelfServe account, and then answer a 92-question questionnaire to determine your eligibility. After this, you’ll have an interview over the phone wherein you can ask for the forms, and they’ll be either emailed or mailed to you (whichever you’d rather). There is no other way to get the forms.
Please Note: We offer a workshop on how to apply for PWD every Thursday at 1:30PM at the VDRC. We strongly encourage you to attend for the best chance of success in applying.
- Where can I get taxes done for free?
Depending on the time of year, lots of places! During and just after tax season (January-May), there are many organizations offering tax assistance around town for free. For more information, visit here for an always-updated CRA list. Also, the Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) offers weekly drop-in tax assistance every Thursday from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM and 1 PM to 4 PM.
- What is the gas tax rebate?
When you purchase fuel in British Columbia, you’re paying fuel tax as well. The Ministry of Finance offers a fuel tax rebate for persons with disabilities. The amount of a rebate you can receive depends on the type of fuel your vehicle uses, but it is usually around 18 cents per liter, and the average person receives $200 a year. You usually must keep receipts to be eligible for this, but they will accept an estimate for the first year. Forms are available from the government, online or in-person, or at the VDRC. There is also a federal gas tax rebate that returns 1.5 cents per litre. Forms to apply for that are also available from the government, online or in-person, or at the VDRC.
- How do I apply for the provincial gas tax rebate?
There is a form available online, at your local Services BC office, or at the VDRC. Mail it to the Ministry of Finance alongside your receipts and you should be qualified for a gas tax rebate. To apply, you must fill out a registration form once, and then fill out application forms yearly to receive the rebate.
- Can I get a reduced rate for my car insurance?
If you have been approved for the fuel tax rebate (see above), you could also qualify for a 25% discount on your autoplan insurance, even if you don’t personally drive the vehicle you insure. To register you must fill out an application, available from their website or at the front office of the VDRC, and provide have a registration letter or your fuel tax rebate number, an owner’s certificate of insurance, and vehicle license documents.
- How do I register for handyDART?
handyDART offers door-to-door transportation for persons with a disability and older adults who cannot use BC Transit or taxi services reliably. There is no cost to register, but you will have to complete both an application form and a medical verification form (available at the VDRC or on the BC Transit website).
Fees for handyDART use:
- 1 Ticket: $2.50
- 10 Tickets: $22.50
You do not require PWD status to use handyDART or related services.
- How do I get Taxi Saver coupons?
You must be a permanent handyDART customer, 12 years of age or older, and have a handyPASS. Eligible individuals can purchase an $80 package of Taxi Saver coupons at a cost of $40 once a month. The coupons come in denominations of $1, $2 and $5. To use them, one can call any participating taxi company and pay with the coupons.
- Can a companion travel with me on aircraft?
Yes, if you have a physical disability, then most major airlines will allow, if not require, you to travel with a companion at no extra cost to you. The requirements to disclose your disability to the airline vary from airline to airline, so we suggest phoning them to ask prior to booking your flight. Forms are available at the VDRC office or the airline’s website.
- Where can one park near the VDRC?
If Fort Street and adjacent streets have filled up, there is a City of Victoria parkade on Broughton Street approximately 260 meters from our offices (beside the Central Library).
- How can I take a leisure assistant to an entertainment venue for free?
There are two similar services offered in this area: the Leisure Assistant’s Pass from Recreation Integration Victoria and the Access 2 Card from Easter Seals Canada. Both allow a care attendant or leisure assistant to access local attractions alongside you, but with a few key differences:
- The Access 2 Card costs $20 while the Leisure Assistant’s Pass is free
- the Access 2 Card includes Cineplex-brand movie theatres and works both in Victoria and around Canada while the Leisure Assistant’s Pass is more focused on locally-owned attractions
- though the Leisure Assistant’s Pass does include IMAX at the Royal BC Museum
Applications and more information on both are available in the VDRC office or on our website under Community Resources.
- How do I go camping for free?
If you have Persons with Disability designation (or a similar service that provides government funding), then ask your caseworker for a Release of Information form. Present this form at a campsite, alongside a piece of valid ID, and you should be allowed to camp for free. See the BC Parks website for more information.
- How do I get a low-cost fishing license?
There is a form available online, at your local Services BC office, or at the VDRC office. Fill it out and you should be qualified to purchase a fishing license for only $1.12.
- Are there grants available for homeowners with a disability to get renovations done?
Yes. The forms to apply for this are available in our office, or on the Home Adaptations For Independence (HAFI) website. We recommend you speak to one of our Information and Referral staff for more information.
- I cannot afford a counselor, but need support. What can I do?
We have a list of free and affordable counselors. You can get a physical copy from the front of the VDRC, or find it online under “Community Resources” on our website.
- Where I can donate used wheelchairs or mobility scooters?
The Red Cross accepts donations of non-broken wheelchairs under 5 years of age. The Victoria Hospitals Foundation accepts donations of wheelchairs that pass an inspection. The Compassionate Centre accepts donations of wheelchairs and mobility scooters as well. All these will require an appraisal of the wheelchair in order to give a tax receipt.
- How do I register my pet as a service animal through the BC government?
At this time, the BC government officially only recognizes dogs who are assisting with the functions of people with a physical disability as service animals – not emotional support animals. Service dogs must have been trained by one of the following organizations (who often work through local sub-divisions): the International Guide Dog Federation, the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society, British Columbia Guide Dog Services, or the Assistance Dogs International. Another option is acing an examination administered by the government. Call 1-866-866-0800 for more information.
- How do I get a service animal?
To be certified by the BC government, a service animal must have been trained by one of the following organizations (who often work through local sub-divisions): the International Guide Dog Federation, the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society, British Columbia Guide Dog Services, or the Assistance Dogs International. Certification is important because otherwise you will not be legally entitled to have your service animal accompany you into private areas, notably including restaurants or airports.
For non-certified service animals, there are numerous organizations able to provide emotional support animals for you. Moreover, many private trainers exist, who will train animals to fit your particular needs. Note that you can pay for the government to administer a test to ensure a privately-trained dog meets the (very strict) requirements for certification. Call 1-866-866-0800 for more information.
- How much am I allowed to earn while receiving the PWD benefit?
If you have a disability and get disability assistance, you are still allowed to work and earn money. There is an annual earnings exemption, meaning you can earn money anytime of the year, with no monthly limit, and it will not change your monthly Disability Assistance payment; of course, as long as it does not surpass the annual limit. The exemption limits are:
- $12,000 for a single person with PWD designation
- $14,400 for a family with two adults where only one of them has a PWD designation
- $24,000 for a family where both adults have a PWD designation
For more information on annual earning exemptions, please visit the BC government website.
- Do I have to disclose my disability to an employer?
Disclosure is always a choice, not a requirement; however, in most cases it is best to disclose so that employers can make the workplace and work space comfortable for you. Whether you want to disclose or not is up to you though!
- Can I receive S.A.F.E.R. (Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters) while receiving PWD (Persons with Disabilities Designation)?
No, you are not eligible to receive S.A.F.E.R. and receive PWD at the same time.
- Can a companion travel with me on a train?
The Easter Seals have reinstated the Disability Travel card, which allows people with permanent disabilities access a free ticket for their support giver. This card applies to VIA Rail Canada, Coach Canada, and Motor Coach Canada. Individuals wishing to access this card must apply.
- Where can I get an advocate?
While we at the VDRC cannot provide advocacy services, Victoria has organizations that offer advocacy and legal assistance, including:
- The Action Committee of People with Disabilities has advocacy in addition to the opportunity to speak to a lawyer through Access Pro Bono every Tuesday by appointment. Wait times are around a week long.
- Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) offers advocacy services on weekdays, but tends to be busy, and wait times for appointments may be 2 weeks or longer.
- Victoria Cool Aid Society, through Resources Employment Education Support (REES), offers advocacy services on weekdays with an average wait time of a few days.
- St Vincent de Paul Society offers access to an advocate on a “first come, first serve” basis every Monday afternoon.
- The Law Centre offers legal assistance from UVic law students, though they have fewer students working when between terms (for 2018-2019, this will be August 7th to September 3rd, December 10th to January 7th, and April 8th to May 6th).