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For Immediate Release

Feb. 6, 2013

Ministry of Social Development



New online eyewear option for those on assistance
Links to eyewear information updated April 15, 2013


VANCOUVER – Government is making changes to ensure people receiving income and disability assistance will be able to purchase their eyeglasses online without being out of pocket, announced Minister of Social Development Moira Stilwell, M.D.


Effective early March, the Ministry of Social Development will be launching a pilot program that will give individuals and families on income and disability assistance the option to purchase eyeglasses online and have the claims submitted to Pacific Blue Cross for payment on behalf of the ministry. Upon the completion of the pilot, the opportunity to participate as a supplier will be extended to other online eyewear companies, provided they meet government criteria for providing services.


Criteria for service providers include the requirement to have an optician, optometrist or an ophthalmologist on staff, licensed to practice in B.C.


Ministry partners in the pilot project are Pacific Blue Cross, the insurer that delivers benefits to recipients of B.C. Employment and Assistance on behalf of the ministry, and B.C.-based Clearly Contacts, the largest online retailer of eyewear in North America.


This change aligns with recent Ministry of Social Development policy changes aimed at helping to improve financial outcomes for vulnerable individuals and families, including restoring some medically necessary equipment and supplies.





Minister of Social Development Moira Stilwell, M.D. –


“When British Columbians said they wanted more choices for buying eyewear, we listened. This pilot project will ensure we can offer people on income and disability assistance the choice and convenience of purchasing their eyewear online without creating undue financial hardship.”



Leza Muir, senior VP claims, Pacific Blue Cross –


“Pacific Blue Cross is proud to administer benefits to British Columbians on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development. Access to an online supplier represents another option available for people on income and disability assistance when they’re looking to buy eyewear.”



Quick Facts:


·         The Ministry of Social Development provides specified optical services, including eye exams, to all recipients of income assistance, disability assistance and hardship assistance.  

·         Adults are eligible for glasses once every three years and children are eligible once a year, with a valid prescription. 

·         Lenses may be replaced within that timeframe when there is a change in prescription.

·         More than 45,000 adults and 33,000 children have received assistance to pay for eyewear over the last three years at a cost of more than $12 million.



Learn More:


For more information on online eyewear:


For a link to Pacific Blue Cross:


For a link to Clearly Contacts:





Grant Kerr

Ministry of Social Development

250 387-5635


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