Tour of Two Cities

poster

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 recieived $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.

 

 

Raise the Rates organizes spoof media event

On BC Family Day, Monday February 10, Raise the Rates organized a humorous spoof media event where ‘Premier Christy Clarke’ announced a radical change in government policy. She announced that the government will tackle poverty in BC by raising welfare rates and then roll out a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy.

If only it was true!Pleased Premier

To find out more:

To help make this dream a reality sing the petition.

‘Premier Christy Clarke’ Announces Action to Tackle Poverty in British Columbia

Speech

Announcing a raise in welfare and launch of a poverty reduction strategy

Raise the Rates organized a spoof media conference – if only it was true.

VANCOUVER – Unceded Coast Salish Territory

B.C. Family Day, February 10, 2014 – Premier Christy Clarke marked the second annual Family Day with an historic shift in government policy in order to tackle poverty in British Columbia.

The coming budget will include an immediate increase in Social Assistance rates. Following this, the government will roll out ideas for a full plan to eliminate poverty in British Columbia.

Premier Christy Clarke stated that, “Today, on Family Day, I promise the 153,000 children in poverty and the 700,000 people in poverty in British Columbia that change is coming. We will bring forward the best poverty reduction plan in Canada so that B.C. no longer has the worst child poverty in Canada.   It’s time for all to have a decent standard of living.”

“Many families are unable to enjoy fully Family Day because they cannot afford to take their family to places like Science World”, said Premier Clarke.  “These families’ lack of finances is not their failure. The reality is that world economic growth is slow and our Jobs Plan has hit a rough patch. When people are not working, it makes social and financial sense to support them through times of crisis.”

Premier Clarke stated today that, “Over 75% of the people of BC want a provincial poverty reduction strategy;” and “much of our economic strength and vitality comes from our local economy. The best way to strengthen our economy is here in BC. There is a strong economic case to tackle poverty.”

“Doctors, dietitians, local government leaders, the Surrey Board of Trade and many others have all told me that we need to tackle poverty. The total costs of poverty in BC are over $8 billon dollars every year. A comprehensive strategy to tackle poverty in BC would cost around $4 billion a year.  By reversing the tax cuts that gave, on average, $41,000 a year to the richest 1% of people in BC we can afford this plan which will then save the people of BC $4 billion a year,” stated Premier Clarke.

“Raising the income of people on Social Assistance means they will spend that money in their local stores, in their local communities.  The increased income for people and the savings on expenditure due to poverty will flow through the economy.”

Premier Clarke concluded saying that, “The last increase in Social Assistance was in 2007. In real terms, it has fallen 10% in value since then. I want to be in province where government does things with people. The community is doing its part. I am determined that my government will do its part. British Columbia will be province we can all be proud to live in as it will be a better place for everyone.”

Reaction from Parents in Poverty

Sign the Petition to Raise Welfare

Media

A full transcript and a video of Premier Christy Clarke’s speech, high quality still photographs, raw footage of today’s event are all available free of charge.

Background sources:

Premier Christy Clarke’s Speech

Pleased Premier

Pleased to be ending poverty in BC

B.C. Family Day, February 10, 2014

When I became Premier of British Columbia, I said that two of the things I wanted to accomplish were supporting families and listening to people.

Today is BC Family Day, which I established as part of this commitment. This is the 2nd year of BC Family day and I wanted to use today to share some important news with the families and the people of BC.

I know that many families are unable to enjoy fully Family Day because they cannot afford to take their family to places like Science World here or the Aquarium. These families love their children as much as I do.

These are families whose lack of finances is not their failing:

  • they may be working hard at their job or even two jobs;
  • they may have lost their job;
  • or they may be living with a disability due to a serious illness or an accident.

I know from the Annual Child Poverty Report Card from First Call that when I became Premier I inherited a sad record of BC having some of the worst child poverty in Canada.  These children are in poverty because their parents are in poverty.

I have said before that when people are not working we have to support them through those times of crisis. It is a stressful time worrying if you can make your mortgage or rent, and the stress of wondering whether or not you can send your child to school with a full lunch box.

I do not want to the Premier of the province with the worst child and adult poverty in Canada.

I have been listening to the people of British Columbia. Over 75% of the people of BC want a provincial poverty reduction strategy

My friends in local government have made their views clear. I know from conversations with local municipal leaders that they are forced to respond to many of the immediate problems caused by poverty in their communities.

At last year’s convention of BC Municipalities, they unanimously passed a resolution calling for the province to “provide adequate and accessible income support for the non-employed, and improve the earnings of the low-wage workforce”.

I have heard the social and human case for tackling poverty.

The government has to balance many genuine demands and pressures. We have to think carefully before we act and we always have to think about the economic impacts of our actions.

I had hoped that with the BC Jobs plan people would be able to find well-paid jobs. However, it is clear that this is not enough.

The reality is we are now living in a world where economic growth is slow. Our Jobs Plan has hit a rough patch and we cannot rely on exports alone.

Much of our economic strength and vitality comes from our homegrown economy; one of the best ways to strengthen our economy is right here in British Columbia.

There is a strong economic case for tackling poverty. I have listened to Surrey Board of Trade and others in the business community who want action on poverty.

I have listened to the medical experts and dietitians who explain that people cannot live a healthy life on social assistance. The health professionals have told me that poverty costs the health system alone over $1 billion every year. That is a lot of money, which could be much better spent.

The last increase in Social Assistance was in 2007. Therefore, in real terms it has fallen 10% in value since then.

I wrote to Raise the Rates last year and stated, “I promise you that the fight against poverty continues”. It is now time to make that promise a reality.

I have gone to help at Food Banks. When I was at the Food Bank in Port Moody I praised the work of food banks in helping people in hunger, and for showing such tremendous community leadership.

The community is doing its part to help. I have said it before and I say it now, I want to be in province where government does things with people.

My government needs to do its part. I am determined that we will do our part. My government will do the right thing. We will take action to tackle poverty in BC.

  • It is the right thing because every woman, child and man in BC should have a decent standard of living.
  • It is the right thing because it is what the people of BC want.
  • It is the right thing because it is what the health experts and dietitians say is needed.
  • It is the right thing because it is what local government says is needed.
  • It is the right thing because it is good for the economy and many in the business community say it is needed.

I cannot give details before the budget speech but I wanted today, on Family Day, to give an assurance to the people of BC that change is coming. I promise the 153,000 children in poverty and the 700,000 people in poverty that change is coming.

1) We will take action immediately to raise Social Assistance starting with the budget in just over a week.

2) We will then roll out ideas for a full plan to tackle poverty in British Columbia.

3) We will talk with and listen to the people of British Columbia and

4) We will bring forward the best poverty reduction plan in Canada.

5) We will share the prosperity of British Columbia with everyone.

British Columbia will be a better place for everyone.

Thank you

First Question: Won’t raising welfare and tackling poverty bankrupt the province?

Thank you:

We know that the total costs of poverty – in health, in the criminal justice system, in education and in the wider economy – all add up to an astonishing $8 to $9 billon dollars every year. I have been told that a comprehensive strategy to tackle poverty in BC would cost around $4 billions a year. Tackling poverty would save every woman, child and man in BC around $900 a year.

Of course, in the short term there will be up-front costs. Like every investment, there is a short-term cost to win long-term benefits. To cover the initial investment we will review some other expenditure and increase taxes on the top earners.

After all, the community is doing their part and government is joining in, so the well-off can afford to contribute. Due to the tax cuts of the last few years, the richest 1% of people are, on average, $41,000 per year better off. This is more than many people in BC earn in a year. If BC’s income taxes were comparable to the average of Canadian provinces, this would generate $2.4 billion a year. We also know that the vast majority of people in British Columbia support fair taxes where the richest people pay their share.

Raising the income of people on social assistance and on lower wages would mean they would spend that money in their local stores, in their local communities. Some of it would even come back to the province in tax revenue. The increased income for people, and the savings on expenditure due to poverty would flow through the economy.

Parents in Poverty Welcome Announcement

Stacey

Stacey Bonenfant

Stacey Bonenfant, a widowed mother of two boys spoke.  “There’s no way we can go to Science World on Family Day.  That’s a week worth of food for us,” she said. We don’t get experiences like the Aquarium and the zoo.  Try to raise two kids on $13,000 a year.  It’s impossible.  We’ll have a healthier and happier province if this goes through.”

Victoria

Victoria Bull

Victoria Bull told the media she is a grandmother raising a granddaughter on social assistance.  “A welfare increase will also be good for single people because they don’t have enough for food and rent as it is.  That means they have to do things like ride the bus without tickets and sell their things on the street.  It means they get ticket they can’t pay for.  The low welfare rates are making criminals of people who are just trying to survive.  So raising welfare rates will have a lot of benefits for everyone.”

Poor People’s Radio

On Friday December 6th Raise the Rates held its annual Poor People’s Radio. Over 75 people gathered for the Radio show, part of Raise the Rates’ third annual trip to the CBC on the CBC’s Food Bank Day.

 The event was also supported by people from Raise the Rates, VANDU, Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society and the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood house.

 The radio show is to encourage the CBC to discuss why after 31 years of Food Banks hunger is worse now in BC. We also ask the people donating to the Food Bank to not only help feed a person for a day but help to end hunger and poverty in BC by calling on the government to raise welfare and tackle poverty.

 Follow the links to:

Raise the Rates

Raise the Rates Banner at the CBC

Poor People's Radio

Poor People’s Radio’s Co-hosts Paul & Wendy

Justice not Charity

We want Justice so we don’t have to Depend on Charity

At the CBC

Poor People’s Radio outside the CBC (Not inside)

Premier Clark’s reply to Raise the Rates

On October 20th, 2013 Raise the Rates wrote to Premier Clark highlighting that people on welfare cannot live a healthy life – they cannot afford basic nutritional food. Read Raise the Rates’ letter

On November 5th Premier Clark replied and assured us that “the fight against poverty continues”.

This just days before First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition released its annual Child Poverty Report Card. This year BC is again the worst in Canada, been that way for 10 years, and child and adult poverty has increased in the last year.