Updated: Mar 15
Advocates will gather in Victoria and online on March 18th
On Thursday, March 18th, advocates will hold a press conference at the BC legislature and gather online to call for a permanent increase in disability and income assistance rates.
Spencer van Vloten talked with event organizer Jeff Legatt about why he's organized the event, and what he has to say to people pushing back against a raise.
What: Press Conference and Online Community Rally to Raise the Rates
When: Thursday, March 18th, 12 pm to 1:30 pm
Where: BC legislature, Victoria + Online
Spencer: Tell us about the event
Jeff: We will be having people showing up at the legislative grounds, but we also want to encourage people to watch the Online Community Rally via Facebook LIVE, which opens the rally up to people across the province.
We were initially holding an in-person rally too, but we want to be safe as possible and cut down on exposure.
We have a number of speakers and press coverage and are very excited!
Spencer: Why did you decide to organize this?
Jeff: I have decided to organize this to keep the spotlight in the media and at the top of the agenda for the sitting provincial government just prior to their release of the upcoming budget.
This also coincides with the cancellation of the temporary COVID support for PWD of the additional $300/month for 9 months and $150/month for the most recent 3 months.
This temporary additional support was to assist Persons Living with Permanent Disabilities during the most difficult period associated with the global pandemic. This included the loss of jobs, increase in food costs, and loss of community support options.
Spencer: What are you calling on the government to do?
Jeff: We are coming forward as a grass roots gathering of Persons with Disabilities and their allies to demand proper, adequate monetary support in the current economic reality.
We are demanding the monetary support be equal to the current level of poverty as outlined and set forth by the government of Canada. This is approximately $25,900 per single person in the year 2020. The current level of monetary support in BC for PWD is approximately $14,400 or just over half of poverty level. This is no longer acceptable.
The current level of monthly support is around $1183/month - the level we are seeking will be around $1800/month - poverty level.
Spencer: How would an increase help?
Jeff: This increase will provide Persons Living with Permanent Disabilities a modicum of respect, dignity and self reliance. This increase will allow Persons living with Permanent Disabilities the chance to stop living a life of mere "existence" and move positively towards a life of security free of the anxiety and health issues directly related to poverty
Spencer: What's your message to the general public who might hear about this and think that raising the rates means higher taxes for them?
I have been seeing a "push-back" from some in the general community unhappy with the thought of "them" having to "pay more for" people who are unable to work. We need to change this narrative!
Taxes do NOT have to be raised in order to provide an adequate level of monetary support to 4.8% of BC's population (PWD). Resources in this province, and in many places around the world, are not being properly allocated.
If we are looking at tax options, a wealth tax of the top 1% is an option, or a maintenance tax on natural resources like water (to Nestle), a sugar tax on harmful foods and drinks, a tightening of budgetary spending within the government.
There are so many options available for us to use before resorting to raising the taxes for the everyday worker and citizen of BC.
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!