B.C.’s New Democrats accused the province yesterday of freezing funding for back-to-work programs while underestimating the number of people who will receive income assistance.

Leaked documents released by the NDP show the monthly welfare caseload is expected to increase to 147,000 in June 2010, up from the 120,000 in March 2009 and 100,000 in 2007.

The government had projected that the province’s welfare rolls would increase to 115,000 people by next summer, said Vancouver-Hastings MLA Shane Simpson. He said the increase adds about $100 million to the province’s costs.

In addition to the “skyrocketing” welfare numbers, Simpson also released an email from an assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of Housing and Social Development, calling for a spending freeze on “direct purchase.”

Direct purchase, Simpson said, refers to back-to-work programs including adult basic education, English as a second language and vocational assessment.

“They’re in a full-panic mode, and a bit of chaos, as they scramble to make cuts and reduce spending in order to reduce this deficit and get it closer to the premier’s number,” Simpson said.

The province has projected a $495-million deficit for 2009.