Increase BC PWD 2022!
BC disability assistance rates (PWD) are still thousands of dollars below the poverty line in 2021
By Spencer van Vloten
BC PWD: Deep In Poverty
A year’s income at 2021 BC PWD rates for single persons is roughly $16,300. The poverty rate for Canada is approximately $26,000 for a single person.
Persons on BC 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, persons on BC PWD 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
BC's Human Rights Commissioner stated that disabled persons are falling through the cracks in BC and aren't having their economic rights sufficiently protected
How Increasing BC PWD Helps
By increasing BC PWD monthly payments to $1800, BC PWD rates would finally be brought up to Canada's poverty line, so that persons on BC disability assistance would better be able to meet basic needs instead of choosing between essentials like food, medication, rent, and utilities. For example, people on BC PWD would have a greater ability 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 BC PWD rates, but it's not a suitable response for a few reasons:
Many people on BC disability assistance can't work, which is why they're on disability!
Even if someone on BC PDW 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 BC PWD actually helps the economy in general, as persons with disabilities would have more money to spend at local businesses
What You Can Do To Increase BC PWD
Sign The BC PWD 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 BC PWD Stories
Read and share first-hand accounts about the struggle of living on BC PWD rates. If you are comfortable, please share your own story.
Contact Your MLA, The Premier, and Key Ministers about BC PWD
You can simply tell them: If you don't support poverty, increase BC PWD!
The 300 To Live campaign, which advocates for raising BC PWD, has also provided this very helpful script for contacting your elected representatives.
Finance Minister Selina Robinson: FIN.Minister@gov.bc.ca
Find the email of your MLA by using this tool.
RE: Permanently increasing BC 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 increase income and disability assistance to livable rates of $1800 monthly, which would bring BC PWD in line with Canada's poverty line.
(Optional: share your story/a loved one's story of being on BC disability assistance)
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 temporary pandemic increase of $300 significantly helped poor and disabled people gain access to basic necessities, such as healthy food, medication, and safe housing, but it didn't go far enough.
At the current level, BC PWD rates 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 $1800 a month to live.
Do the right thing: raise BC PWD rates to $1800 a month. I urge you to:
1. Raise BC disability assistance rates to $1800 monthly
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.
Contact Us About BC PWD
If you want to share your thoughts, your story of living on BC disability assistance, or just want to connect, please send us a message through our contact form, or to firstname.lastname@example.org!
BC Disability Editor