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,




Raise the Rate’s Report of 2013


Raise the Rates: ‘Thank you’ Evening

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
7 pm – 9 pm

Grandview Calvary Baptist Church
1803 1st Ave E, Vancouver

(one block east of Commercial Drive)

Raise the Rates is inviting friends and organizations who have helped us over the last year in all our activities to our ‘thank you’ evening.

The evening will include:
• Our ‘Poor People’s radio show’ of talk and music
• Roundtable discussion on Raise the Rate’s activities
• Question and Answer about Raise the Rates
• Video’s and displays of Raise the Rates activities
• Great desserts, tea and coffee

To help with catering, please reply if you are attending
• 604 738-1653
• bill50@vcn.bc.ca

Tour of Two Cities


Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territory

April 1, 2014, Tour of Two Cities
7 years since last Welfare Raise!
This is No Joke!

After seven years of no increase in welfare rates, it is time to Raise the Rates.
On April 1, Raise the Rates organized a Tour of Two Cities, highlighting the contrast between the rich and poor in Vancouver. The Tour was to mark 7 years since the last welfare increase. The welfare rate for a single able-bodied person has been frozen at $610 a month while the rate for a single person on disability has been frozen at $906 a month. Inflation and soaring rents means that a person on disability welfare is at least $114 a month worse off than 7 years ago. This is No Joke!

The tour started outside the Carnegie Community Centre, the heart of the community with a huge range of activities including seniors programs, health advice, music, theatre, writing classes, a library, yoga and volleyball, education, conversation, friendship and good food. Lunch at Carnegie costs $2.25. Jean Swanson contrasted the treatment of rich and poor in BC today. Fraser Stuart explained what it is like on welfare, living on the able-bodied rate of $610.

Tour of Two Cities - On the Walk

Tour of Two Cities: Heading down Hastings Street

The Tour set off down Hastings to go to the other side of town, the area for the rich and powerful. The tour highlighted that BC has enough money to raise welfare, tackle poverty and provide good housing for all. Instead, the BC Government gives handouts to the rich. Tackling poverty would save lives, make for a happier province and save the people of BC $4 billion a year.

Birks, the Luxury Jeweller, at 698 Hastings, was the first stop. Clearly there is plenty of money in Vancouver and Canada; Canada wide sales in 2013 were $158,834,000. The CEO’s income is well over $1 million a year.
The BC government’s tax cuts between 2000 and 2010 made the rich even richer. The richest 1% of British Columbians received, on average, an extra $41,000 a year from these tax cuts! This tax cut alone is more money than the income of half of the workers in BC. The median individual income, after tax, in 2011 was $26,842. To mark this marriage of the rich and government, Raise the Rates performed a symbolic wedding using a $41,000 ring!

Tour of Two Cities - Homeless Person outside Luxury Jewellers

Homeless Person outside Luxury Jeweller

Raise the Rates next visited the Vancouver Club, 915 W Hastings. This where some of the rich and powerful who make the decisions in BC hang out. Dave Diewert and Harold Lavender pointed out that, to join the Club the entrance fee alone is $6,500 and in addition there are monthly dues of $213 (for a resident of Vancouver over 45 years old). This doesn’t even get you cheap food. One of the lowest cost items on the menu is soup or salad, a sandwich, and tea or coffee all of costs $24 (plus tax and service charge!). This is more than a person on welfare has for a week’s food.

Tour of Two Cities - Outside Vancouver Club - membership fee of $6,500

Tour of Two Cities: Outside the Vancouver Club. Membership Fee $6,500 plus $213 every month

Trish Garner, Poverty Reduction Coalition, demonstrated the inequality of wealth in BC using a rope cut into 4 sections, and an invisible 5th piece. The richest 20% of people in BC have 75% of all the wealth while the poorest 60% share only 8% of the wealth.

Tour of Two Cities - Outside Vancouver Club - Home of the 1%

Tour of Two Cities: The Vancouver Club. Where the 1% hang out.

Tracey Morrison, highlighted that poverty is one of the biggest causes of poor health as people cannot afford a healthy diet, have stressful lives and often have inadequate housing. Poverty costs the health system of BC over $1.2 billion every year. But the rich can afford extra private health treatment. Medisys Corporate Health Services, 900 W Hastings, a private health company had sales of over $50,000,000.

One of the hardest things do to on welfare is to find decent housing, as rents soar and affordable housing is replaced by condos. At the top of Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, 1038 Canada Place, sits Vancouver’s priciest condo, sold for $25 million, in June 2013. The $25 million, apparently spent for only a part-time home, could build over 100 units of good quality social housing.

Across the street is the BC Liberal’s office, Waterfront Centre, 200 Burrard Street. Bill Hopwood, Raise the Rates, stated that it is political decision to subsidize the rich, which means the BC has the worst adult and child poverty in Canada. In the last 30 years, people on welfare have had a 20% cut in income, while the Premier and MLAs are 25% better off and the 10% richest are 40% better off.

Sam Snobelin pointed out that Canada is a wealthy country and the Canadian Banks have plenty of money, the combined profits of the five big banks were $29 billion in 2013. The Royal Bank of Canada, Burrard & Georgia, is the most profitable, making $8.4 billion. The CEO received $12.6 million in compensation at the same time as firing 1,100 workers. The Canadian and US governments found around $140 billion to help out the banks during the financial crisis of 2008-9, yet the government will not provide a national housing strategy.

We Are Poor Because They Are Rich!
More Photos here.

Video of the Tour

Media included:
Global TV
Georgia Straight