Northern BC residents living on social assistance are likely to have fuller bellies over the holiday season.

As of December 1st, the province increased its crisis supplement funding by 50%, allowing eligible applicants to receive $40 per-person per-month for food during what’s considered to be a difficult time of year.

Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson claims this is the first time in more than a decade the funds have gone up, calling it a ‘modest increase.’

“The difficult reality is people who are on income assistance don’t have a lot of money. These are small steps moving forward, but we’re going to reduce poverty by 25% overall and child poverty by 50% over the next five years.”

When asked if this could lead to an increase on other related funds, if all goes well, Simpson said that’s to be determined.

“There’s a whole array of factors that play into that decision. We do have a crisis supplement that’s in place to support people who might face disconnection on their utilities, for example. We also know the Ministry of Energy through BC Hydro provide $600 to support people who are struggling around paying heating bills and things like that.”

According to Simpson, of the more than 557,000 residents on income assistance in BC, over 40% receive a paycheque but have a tough time making ends meet.

The province is expected to roll out its updated poverty reduction plan during February’s budget reading in the Legislature.