Walk to Raise Welfare, March 31

















It is 8 years, on April 1, since welfare was last raised in BC.

On March 31 Raise the Rates, with others, is organizing a demo to demand a significant increase in welfare.

Join us at 11 am at Carnegie (Main & Hastings) and we will march to the provincial government offices.


Welfare = Hunger

A friend of Raise the Rates, Megan Ellis QC, has produced several banners to publicize the need to raise welfare rates. They are suitable for balconies, yards, etc.

balconyWe would like to display them around Metro Vancouver, with people putting them up for two or three weeks and then passing them on to someone else, so we have a moving public awareness campaign.

2834Adanac2• If you are interested in being on the list for have a banner, contact Raise the Rates.
• If you would like to sponsor or buy a permanent banner, we can have one made at cost price of $70.

BC government’s priority – Look after the rich

budget15The BC government claims it can’t afford to raise welfare and tackle poverty. Yet it can give away $227 million to the richest people in BC. It tells you who the BC government runs the province for.


Poor People’s Radio Show: 15 and 1500 in ‘15

PosterOn Friday, December 5, Raise the Rates with Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society (WAHRS), Carnegie Community Action Program (CCAP), Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), Aboriginal Front Door and Downtown Eastside residents organized a march and rally of over 70 people for the 3rd annual Poor People’s Radio Show outside the CBC.
After 32 years of Food Banks in BC and 28 years of the CBC raising money for the Food Banks we want to know when is society going to end the need for Food Banks. Food Banks alleviate symptoms, hunger, for a few days, but do not tackle the cause – poverty. They were established as a “temporary” measure; but are now an institution – a tragic, permanent acceptance of mass poverty in the rich province of BC.
on the WalkEinstein said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” After 32 years of Food Banks, with increasing hunger, it is time to change. Food Banks Canada states that, “without poverty, food banks would not need to exist.”
The poverty line in BC is around $1,500 a month so, as no one should live in poverty, Raise the Rates proposes that the welfare rate should be $1,500 a month (with a Person with Disabilities rate of $1,800 a month). This, linked with minimum wage of $15 an hour, would end poverty. We say fifteen hundred and fifteen in ’15.
EarleThe Poor People’s Radio hour-long show included moving speeches, uplifting songs from Solidarity Notes Choir and drumming. Victoria Bull opened the show with an acknowledgment of standing on unceded Coast Salish territory. The co-hosts, Tracey Morrison and Wendy Pederson, guided the show. Audrey Seagal, a Musqueam activist, spoke about her own experiences of poverty and the links to wider social injustice. Harold Lavender, Richard Cunningham and Kombii Nanjalah all spoke of their experiences of poverty. They pointed out that the present welfare system neither works to support people, who through misfortune, are on welfare nor benefits wider society.
AudreyFraser Stewart proposed that, after 28 years of the CBC raising money for Food Banks, the CBC should have a serious discussion on Food Bank Day of the actions needed to end the need for Food Banks. It would be a great achievement if 2015 was the last Food Bank Day as BC was ending poverty.
Bill Hopwood, from Raise the Rates, stated that as BC is a rich province there is no reason for poverty – poverty is the result of political decisions about the priorities. As BC is the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction plan, in 2015 the provincial government should enact a program to end poverty.
A full anti-poverty program, rising welfare and the minimum wage, providing low cost childcare and building social housing, would cost less than $4 billion a year but would save the $8 billion the province currently wastes on the costs of poverty. Ending poverty would save around $4 billion a year, create jobs and make BC a much happier place.
The Poor People’s Radio ended with a minute of silence remembering the people who died of poverty in the last year.
Food Bank use is increasing in BC, up 3.6% last year and still up 25% since the recession of 2008. Last year the CBC raised $655,147, which shows the generosity of BC people and sounds like a lot of money. However, this is only $6.73 for each of the 97,369 people who used Food Banks in 2014 – less than one day’s healthy eating!
A recent report by Put Food in the Budget pointed out that in 2013 CBC sponsored 19 seasonal charity programs for Food Banks. These generated a total of 1,868,000 pounds of food which, when divided by the 1.7 million people who visit a Food Bank in Canada in a year, equals 1.1 pounds of food per person year. This is only one third of one day’s food needed for each recipient.
We call upon BC’s politicians to follow the old phrase “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Ask yourselves, how can you justify wasting money and making people live in poverty because of misfortune or having a very low paying job? It is time to do the right thing and in 2015 raise welfare to $1,500 a month and the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

• CCPA, 2011, The Cost of Poverty in BC
• Food Banks Canada, Hunger Count 2014
• Put Food in the Budget, 2014, Who banks on food banks in Canada
• Provincial Health Services Authority, 2014, Food costing in BC 2013

3rd Annual Welfare Food Challenge

The campaign has been launched and over 100 people have signed up to take the Welfare Food Challenge so far (and counting!).

Please check out the Welfare Food Challenge site for all the latest news and details!

The 2014 Welfare Food Challenge runs from Thursday, October 16th, World Food Day, to Wednesday, October 22nd (or into Thursday, October 23rd depending on when you start). Participants will only eat the food they can buy with $21 dollars.

Read the news release and check out the photos on our Facebook page.

Photo of Kate Kysow's shopping for the week

Kate Kysow’s shopping for the week


Murder by Policy


7 pm, Monday September 22
Carnegie Theatre,
Carnegie Centre, Main & Hastings

(unceded Coast Salish Territory)

• Doctor Gary Bloch (Toronto): “Treating poverty works like medicine.”
• Mona Woodward, Aboriginal Front Door
• DTES Health Practitioners
• DTES activists


Organized by Raise the Rates

This is event is part of a tour of Vancouver by Dr Gary Bloch. For full schedule

Take Action. Write to your MLA calling for a substantial increase in welfare rates. Draft letter here.


Write to your MLA

[MLA Address]


Dear [MLA Name],

I am a member of your constituency and I want you to know that I support the work of the Raise the Rates campaign. Here are some things which I would like to see the British
Columbia Legislature take action on:
• Increase Income Assistance Rates to the Market Basket Measure. This is approximately $1,300 a month in Vancouver, for a single person. I want to see the rates indexed to inflation.
• Remove arbitrary barriers that prevent people in need from receiving assistance. The 2-year independence test, the 5-week work search and restrictions based on citizenship status are unfair and prevent people from receiving the help they need.
• Increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and index it to inflation.
• I want to see an end to the clawbacks that prevent single parents receiving support from the absent parent.
• Build at least 10,000 units of affordable non-market housing per year in addition to increases in supportive housing, assistive living units and shelter beds.
• Provide high quality public childcare.
• Increase the tax rate on people who earn more than $250,000 per year and reverse the tax cuts to corporations.

These measures will ensure that everyone in British Columbia is able to participate in our economies and communities. These measures will help to end poverty in our province.
We should not have anyone in our province that has to live in poverty since there is no
reason why anyone in Canada should have to go without.

By implementing the solutions brought forward by the Raise the Rates campaign, this
government can show the people they care about the well being of British Columbians,
and are willing to fulfill their responsibilities to their constituents.

Yours truly,