Anti-poverty activists gather before rallying in support of raising provincial disability rates
By Spencer van Vloten
The snow and stinging cold couldn't keep anti-poverty activists from hitting the Vancouver streets to rally in support of raising provincial disability assistance rates.
With temperatures dropping below -1 and icy winds lashing skin, the group gathered at Main Street's Income Assistance and Welfare Office, where they held a rally to call on the provincial government to increase disability assistance rates.
The current rates for an individual are set at around $1183 a month, for an annual total of $14,196, which falls thousands of dollars short of BC's poverty-line.
A monthly $300 COVID supplement was initially provided to offset financial hardships caused by the pandemic, but this was reduced to $150 and will soon be completely cut.
"The government needs to start paying more attention to low-income people", said Murray Martin of the anti-poverty group BC Acorn.
"A recent report called for immediately raising disability assistance by $500 a month. This, coupled with the $300 claw-back, is why we're here."
"Why should being disabled mean that you have to live in poverty? It just doesn't make sense. Why are we legislating these people into poverty?"
"Why should being disabled mean that you have to live in poverty?"
Although Premier John Horgan has stated that he will push for a permanent increase to disability assistance rates, Martin was far from satisfied with the premier's statement.
"Does it make me optimistic? No! it makes it sound like he's in the opposition and has no power, when in fact he's the premier, the most influential man in government. He can do it if he wants to, just with the stroke of a pen."
To help ensure that change really does happen, Martin is calling on British Columbians to show their support for the cause.
"Contact your MLAs, that's the biggest thing. They're the ones who make policies and can therefore raise the rates and lift disabled persons out of poverty. Come to rallies like this and stand out with us."
"And always keep speaking up and putting pressure on the government to make the change, because that's the only way it will happen."
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to email@example.com!