If You Don't Support Poverty, Increase PWD!

Provincial disability assistance rates (PWD) are thousands of dollars below the poverty line

By Spencer van Vloten

BC Disability


Deep In Poverty

  • A year’s income at the current provincial disability rate for single persons is roughly $16,300. The poverty rate for Canada is approximately $26,000 for a single person.

  • Persons on disability assistance receive $375 a month for shelter. The average monthly rent in BC is over $2000.

  • The monthly Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), based on a minimum standard of living, was $2000, much more than the $1358 monthly provincial disability rate for a single person.

  • Despite these minuscule disability rates, disabled persons actually have higher living costs than non-disabled persons

  • As a result, disabled persons disproportionately face

    • Poverty and ongoing debt

    • Homelessness and tenuous shelter

    • Starvation and malnutrition

    • Inability to pay for much needed medications

    • Depression and mental health issues

How An Increase Helps


In April 2020, the provincial government introduced a $300 COVID-19 supplement for income assistance and disability assistance recipients, which was set for a 3-month period and extended through December 2020, before being lowered to $150 and scheduled to end early in 2021.


By making the $300 supplement permanent and adding it to the normal PWD payments, persons on disability assistance would be be able to meet basic needs instead of choosing between essentials like food, medication, rent, and utilities. For example, they would better be able to:

  • Contribute to local businesses and economic rebuilding

  • Avoid homelessness and access safe shelter and housing

  • Prevent starvation and malnutrition

  • Afford life-saving medication and therapy

  • Buy suitable clothes for themselves and their children

  • Avoid being forced to choose between which bills to pay

  • Break out of poverty and debt cycles

  • Improve their mental health


In an interview with BC Disability's Spencer van Vloten, increasing disability assistance was the first thing housing expert Brian Clifford identified as being vital to providing respectable housing for disabled persons.

Oh, but they should just get a job...

This is sometimes mentioned in response to calls for raising the rates, but it's not a suitable response for a few reasons:

  • Many people on disability assistance can't work, which is why they're on disability!

  • Even if someone on disability can work a limited number of hours, when they're struggling so much to get by how are they going to find the time, resources, or energy to develop employment skills or to send out 30 applications a day when they're struggling just to eat or find shelter?

  • Jobs are very tough to find for anyone, let alone disabled persons, who face discrimination in hiring

  • Raising PWD actually helps the economy in general, as persons with disabilities would have more money to spend at local businesses


What You Can Do

Sign The Petition

If you do not want persons with disability to live in poverty, please add your support to the 300 To Live petition to increase disability assistance

Read And Share The Stories

Read and share first-hand accounts about the struggle of living on current disability assistance rates. If you are comfortable, please share your own story.


Contact Your MLA,The Premier, and Key Ministers

You can simply tell them: If you don't support poverty, increase PWD!


The 300 To Live campaign, which advocates for raising provincial disability assistance rates, has also provided this very helpful script for contacting your elected representatives.

Premier John Horgan: premier@gov.bc.ca
Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Nicholas Simons: SDPR.Minister@gov.bc.ca

Finance Minister Selina Robinson: FIN.Minister@gov.bc.ca

Find the email of your MLA by using this tool.

RE: Permanently increasing income and disability assistance

Dear [politician’s name],

My name is [name] and I am writing to you from [city / constituency] in order to urge you to continue the $300 per month increase to income and disability assistance, and to further increase income and disability assistance to livable rates.

(Optional: share your story about how the $300 increase has helped you or someone you know, & what barriers you / people in your community are facing.)

Poor and disabled people have been living in an ongoing crisis of poverty, inaccessibility and injustice for far too long, which has been maintained by provincial legislation and policy. The recent temporary increase of $300 significantly helped poor and disabled people gain access to basic necessities, such as healthy food, medication, and safe housing.

Withdrawing this increase will force people back into choosing which bills to pay and starving at the end of the month. [We / disabled and poor people in BC] need the $300 to live.

Do the right thing: make the $300 increase permanent. I urge you to:

1. Bring back and maintain the $300/month increase to income and disability assistance rates

2. Permanently raise income assistance rates to at least the poverty line, indexed to inflation; and

3. Ensure that increases to income assistance and disability assistance include a clear, earmarked increase to the shelter portion.

Thank you for your consideration.


[postal code]


Contact Us

If you want to share your thoughts, your story of living on disability assistance, or just want to connect, please send us a message through our contact form, or to spencer@bcdisability.com!


Spencer van Vloten

BC Disability Editor

Send A Message

We want to hear from you! Get in touch via the following options:

Editor, Spencer van Vloten: spencer@bcdisability.com