Overview of BC Provincial and Federal Nutrition Benefits Programs

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Provincial Nutrition Benefits Programs

Provincial nutrition benefits are part of Health Supplements and Programs through the BC Employment and Assistance Program. Nutrition benefits include:

  • Nutritional supplement, including Infant formula
  • Diet supplement
  • Monthly nutritional supplement
  • Tube feed supplement
  • Natal supplement

Information on eligibility and application processes can be accessed at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/health-supplements-and-programs/

Rate amounts for provincial nutrition benefit programs can be accessed at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/bc-employment-and-assistance-rate-tables/health-supplements-and-programs-rate-table

A. Nutritional Supplements

Policy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/health-supplements-and-programs/nutritional-supplements

Nutritional Supplement

Clients receiving income assistance or disability assistance or their dependent child are eligible for up to three (3) months of calorie supplementation (for example, Boost® or Ensure®) to recover from:

  • surgery
  • severe injury
  • serious disease
  • side effects of medical treatment

Nutritional supplements are not provided where they would be used as a food replacement.

To apply: Written confirmation must be given by a physician, nurse practitioner or registered dietitian. The documentation must include the diagnosis and reason the product is required, the name of the product required, the amount of product required, a price quote for the product, and the expected duration of need (up to a maximum of 3 months). This information must be sent to the client's Employment and Income Assistance Office.

Infant Formula

Clients receiving income assistance or disability assistance are eligible for:

  • regular infant formula during the child's first 12 months if the infant is at risk from contracting a disease through breastfeeding
  • specialized infant formula to a child with a medical condition that requires specialized formula to treat the condition

To apply: Written confirmation must be given by a physician, nurse practitioner or registered dietitian. The documentation must include the name of the product required, the amount of product required, and the expected duration of need. This information must be sent to the client's Employment and Income Assistance Office.

B. Diet Supplements

Policy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/health-supplements-and-programs/diet-supplements

Clients receiving income assistance or disability assistance are eligible to apply for a diet supplement to help meet costs of following a special diet. The maximum amount (per month) for each diet or medical condition is:

  • Sodium restricted diet; $10.00
  • Diabetes; $35.00
  • Kidney dialysis; $30.00
  • Gluten-free diet; $40.00
  • Dysphagia diet; $40.00 and may also receive $30.00 toward purchase of a blender
  • Ketogenic diet; $40.00
  • Low phenylalanine (PKU) diet; $40.00
  • Cystic fibrosis; $50.00
  • High protein diet; $40.00 and may also receive $30.00 toward purchase of a blender.
    • Clients needing a high protein diet must have a diagnosis of one of the following:
      • cancer requiring nutritional support during radiation, chemotherapy, surgical therapy or ongoing medical treatment
      • chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis)
      • HIV/AIDS
      • chronic bacterial infection
      • tuberculosis
      • hyperthyroidism
      • osteoporosis
      • hepatitis B or C

Note: If a person has more than one of the above medical conditions, the person may receive only the amount of the highest diet benefit for which they are eligible.

To apply: Written confirmation must be provided by a physician, nurse practitioner or registered dietitian. The documentation must include the specific medical condition, the diet required, and the expected duration of need. This information must be sent to the client's Employment and Income Assistance Office.

C. Monthly Nutritional Supplement (MNS)

Policy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/health-supplements-and-programs/monthly-nutritional-supplement (includes MNS application form)

Clients who have a Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation and who are receiving disability assistance may be eligible to apply for the monthly nutritional supplement. Clients should contact their Employment and Income Assistance Office for information and forms. A physician, nurse practitioner or registered dietitian must confirm in writing, all of the following:

  1. The client has a severe medical condition causing a chronic, progressive deterioration of health, and as a result the client displays two or more of the following symptoms:
    • malnutrition
    • underweight status
    • significant weight loss
    • significant muscle mass loss
    • significant neurological degeneration
    • significant deterioration of a vital organ, and/or
    • moderate to severe immune suppression
  2. To alleviate these symptoms, the client requires one or both of the following:
    • additional food to supplement a regular diet, and/or
    • vitamins and minerals
  3. Failure to obtain these items will result in imminent danger to the person's life.

An MNS will only be provided if the client's family unit is not able to provide the items.

A client who receives the MNS additional food to supplement a regular diet is not eligible to apply for the diet supplement or nutritional supplement. A client who receives the MNS vitamins and minerals only is eligible to apply for the diet supplement or nutritional supplement.

D. Tube Feed Supplement

Policy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/health-supplements-and-programs/tube-feed-supplement

Clients receiving income assistance or disability assistance are eligible to apply for a tube feed supplement if they are unable to take food orally or process food through their gastrointestinal system. The supplement can be provided for acute short-term or chronic long-term conditions. This supplement is available when no other government funded or other programs are available to the client.

To apply: Written confirmation must be provided by a physician, nurse practitioner or registered dietitian. The documentation must include that the person's primary source of nutrition must be obtained through tube feeding; the type of nutritional product required; the daily or monthly quantity of nutritional product required; the expected duration of the condition requiring tube feeding; and needed tube feeding supplies or equipment.

A person receiving the tube feeding supplement is not eligible to receive any other nutrition-related supplement.

E. Natal Supplement

Policy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/health-supplements-and-programs/natal-supplement

Pregnant recipients and family units with a dependent child under 7 months can apply for the natal supplement. The supplement may be used to help meet costs of pregnancy and newborns.

Clients are eligible for natal supplement from the time pregnancy is confirmed to 6 months past the date of birth. Apply early as the benefit is not retroactive.

To apply: Written documentation from a physician, nurse practitioner or midwife must be sent to the client's Employment and Income Assistance Office. Documentation must include confirmation of pregnancy and expected date of delivery.

For Further Information

British Columbia Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Local office information is available at Ministry of Social Development & Poverty Reduction (MSDPR) Contacts or by calling 1-866-866-0800

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/organizational-structure/ministries-organizations/ministries/social-development-poverty-reduction/ministry-contacts

First Nations Health Authority Health Benefits Program

For information on the benefits, eligibility and services covered, contact;

Currently, coverage can be submitted for specified services and programs such as prescription drugs, medical supplies and equipment, vision and eye care, medical transportation, dental/orthodontic benefits and crisis intervention.

Federal Nutrition Benefits Programs

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Nutrition Benefits

Policy: Veterans Independence Program - Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans may be eligible for coverage of tube feeding supplies and formula or caloric supplementation with oral nutritional supplements depending on the client's level of coverage. Eligibility criteria differ according to veteran classification and eligibility is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Clients will require:

  • letter signed by their physician describing
    • their medical condition
    • nutrition needs
    • the client's "K number" from their VAC Health Identification card
  • written prescription for the required nutrition supplements and supplies

Clients must bring both the letter and prescription to their pharmacy. The pharmacist will fax the information directly to the VAC Medical Authorization Centre and/or Pharmacy Special Authorization Call Centre.

Veterans who are part of the Veterans Independence Program (VIP) can contact VIP for information on the Access to Nutrition program.

Veterans can contact 1-866-522-2122 for information on programs.

Last updated: October 2019


These resources are provided as sources of additional information believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of publication and should not be considered an endorsement of any information, service, product or company.

Distributed by:

Dietitian Services at HealthLinkBC (formerly Dial-A-Dietitian), providing free nutrition information and resources for BC residents and health professionals. Go to Healthy Eating or call 8-1-1 (anywhere in BC). Interpreters are available in over 130 languages.

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