A delegation of twenty people from Raise the Rates told the NDP that they want an immediate commitment to increasing welfare rates. The group delivered this message by hand to Adrian Dix’s office.
A year ago today Jagrup Brar, NDP MLA for Surrey Fleetwood, completed his month of living on the welfare rate of $610. Brar found he could not live on welfare; he lost 26 pounds in weight. A year later welfare rates have not changed and people still cannot live on $610. The letter called on Adrian Dix and the NDP to make a clear commitment to increase welfare rates substantially.
Sandra Pronteau, a grandmother raising her grandchild in poverty, explained how life was a constant struggle and fine words were not enough; people needed to have their income raised to be free from poverty and to be able to live with dignity.
“Across the globe, popular movements of ordinary people have emerged, declaring in words and actions that they are no longer satisfied with the status quo. People have grown restless with a leadership that serves the interests of the political, social and economic elite while ignoring the needs of the majority,” said part of the letter from Raise the Rates.
The letter reminded the NDP that over 70% of people in BC support a provincial poverty reduction strategy, raising welfare to cover real food and housing costs and a program to build social housing. A government that acted on these popular policies, paying for it by taxing the rich, would significantly reduce inequality
Poverty costs BC a fortune, said Fraser Stewart, a single person on welfare. The cost of poverty in health alone is more than a billion dollars. And there are all the other costs to education, criminal justice system, and lost economic opportunities. At a time when politicians say money is tight it is astounding they waste so much money due to poverty. Fixing poverty would save money and make people happier and BC a better place.
Poverty forces women to survival sex work stated Colleen Boudreau, a single parent on disability allowance. She reminded the NDP that BC has the worst poverty and child poverty and needs to act to end this disgrace. Boudreau passionately demand that the NDP make a clear statement that it will raise welfare rates.
The Raise the Rates letter pointed out that peoples’ “allegiance cannot be purchased by traditional political loyalties or mere election promises.” It urged Adrian Dix and NDP to do, “More than words alone, we insist on the action with real change for the better [and] Align yourself with this movement of popular resistance and social change. Dare to envision and enact a future of equality and justice.”