City councilors and disability advocates wasted no time speaking out about the province's $175 social assistance increase
By Spencer van Vloten
On Tuesday, March 16th, the BC government announced a permanent increase of $175 a month for disability and income assistance.
Spencer van Vloten connected with city councilors Jean Swanson and Loyal Wooldridge, disability advocate and educator Heather McCain, as well as community organizer Jeff Legatt, to hear their thoughts on the announcement.
Jean Swanson, Vancouver City Councilor
"We need to keep up the pressure. It’s not even the measly $300 of the COVID supplement. CERB (Canadian Emergency Response Benefit) showed that the federal government thinks people really need $2000 to live. $300 would have been a tiny step in that direction.
"$175 shows complete disregard for what it’s like to be really poor. That said, probably the only reason we’ve got $175 is cause of the campaign for $300. "
Loyal Wooldridge, Kelowna City Councilor
"What welcomed news this was today. I’m very pleased to see our government investing into people, especially our most vulnerable."
"While the increase is lower than the ‘top up’ during COVID, it is a step in the right direction. As always, there is more work to do and I'm grateful to see this investment."
Heather McCain, Founder and Executive Director, Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods
"I think it is an insult. For the average person on disability, it still has them $600 away from what the federal government said was the minimum a person could live on in a month ($2,000)."
"It is throwing peanuts at us, knowing that people who live in poverty have no choice but to take the little amount the government throws our way even though it is not actually doing enough to make a difference."
"It also doesn't affect the $375 shelter portion amount that is so out of date with today's housing market and rental costs."
Jeff Legatt, Community Organizer, Press Conference and Online Rally To Raise The Rates
"It is a lukewarm response to a dire situation".
"Kudos for the previous COVID supplement of $300, but a permanent increase of $175 a month is a kiss on the cheek at the end of a date".
"This increases PWD support from 55% of the poverty line to 64% - a 9% increase in an effort to equal the poverty line in Canada. It is a start, and the first and only increase in over 10 years".
"As I stated to Premier Horgan - British Columbians, as a collective community of over 5 million, have an annual GDP of over $250 Billion, and our top 10 richest families are worth a collective value of more than $25 Billion.
"If we cannot support our most vulnerable - disabled brothers and sisters - at the support level equal to the poverty line, then we have failed as a collective community!"
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!