Disability and anti-poverty advocates will gather in Vancouver for a socially distanced rally
The Out Of Poverty Parade will bring activists together to push for a permanent increase in disability and income assistance rates ahead of the upcoming clawback and April provincial budget.
Spencer van Vloten talked with Kier Gray, a co-organizer of the 300 To Live campaign, about the event and what else is to come.
What: Out Of Poverty Parade
When: Thursday, March 18th, 12:30pm
Where: 625 Howe St. at Dunsmuir, Vancouver, BC Ministry of Social Development office
Why: To raise the rates!
Spencer: The Out Of Poverty Parade will take place on March 18th. What do you hope to see this Thursday?
Kier: 300 To Live, the Downtown Eastside SOR Collaborative Society, and the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition came together in January to discuss a plan of action for raising rates, and this was one of the outcomes.
People on assistance are too often dealing with struggle and isolation; they’re unable to afford healthy food, trying not to get evicted, and facing personal issues. I hope this rally will make the public more aware that people are struggling with legislated poverty, and that there’s a clear solution: raise the rates.
Spencer: The new budget will be announced next month – how optimistic are you that the rates will be raised?
Kier: I’m not there in the room with the government to know what they’re planning, but I’m hopeful.
We’ve had over 11,000 sign our open letter for raising the rates to at least to the poverty line, many people engaged in our letter writing campaign, and awareness continues to be raised, which can all make a difference when it comes to policy change.
Spencer: How will you respond if the government raises the rates? What if they don't?
Kier: The 300 To Live campaign and our allies believe in a universal basic income of at least $2000 a month, not only for persons with disability, but anyone facing financial instability.
Regardless of what happens, we’ll continue to voice our objectives as people fighting for universal basic income and to free people from poverty.
Regardless of what happens, we’ll continue to voice our objectives as people fighting...to free people from poverty.
Spencer: What do you say to someone who thinks that persons with disabilities should get more financial support, but question whether now is the time with the deficit and economic problems caused by the pandemic?
Kier: I'd ask them when is the right time. We've been stuck at $375 for shelter for the last 14 years, and it seems the government has never felt it's the right time. People are suffering as a result.
Spencer: In this last month or so before the budget is announced, what should people be doing if they want to see the rates raised?
Kier: Be as vocal as possible. Write letters to the editor, to MLAs. Let them know that you want change and that it can happen if they really want it to.
Spencer: Anything you’d like to add?
Kier: It’s been incredibly heart-warming to see how many people support the campaign. So many of us are on assistance, have a loved one on assistance, or a friend on assistance, and to see the community rally in support has been amazing.
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!