Raise the Rates meets Minister of ‘Poverty Reduction’

 

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On August 15th, a small group of Raise the Rates organizers and volunteers headed to Minister Shane Simpson’s downtown Vancouver office to give him our demands. This is our confirming letter.

To Minister Shane Simpson;

Hello! Raise the Rates coalition here. We are writing to confirm the demands we brought forward to our meeting on Tuesday August 15th, where we spoke about the necessity of raising welfare rates to at least the market basket measure of $1680 (for Vancouver area), how we can’t end homelessness without raising rates, how impossible it is to get PWD, how people are losing their lives in poverty, and how a more equal society benefits everyone.

Raise the Rates is a coalition of people in poverty, organizers, advocates, faith groups, unions, community groups and organizations. We have spent many years demanding the government to commit to ending poverty. Two weeks ago, we asked you, what kind of legacy does the NDP want to have? Do you want to end poverty, legislate it further (which it will be with rates kept at the level they are now, $710/single person), or reduce it? We gave you a list of arbitrary barriers to accessing welfare that you could remove with an order in council. These barriers stem from the 50% diversion rate in welfare offices, which, if this policy was abolished, more people would be able to access the support they need.

We are sending along this letter asking you to respond to our demands:

  1. Will you raise rates so that poverty in BC is ended?
  2. Do you commit to removing barriers to accessing welfare, such as long phone wait times, an inaccessible online application, Independence Tests, and restoring individual case workers and maintaining office hours for a full 8 hour day?
  3. Do you commit to immediate action to end homelessness, recognizing that raising rates is crucial to helping make that happen?
  4. Do you commit to promoting the benefits of ending poverty? This means speaking publicly in support of ending poverty, and not speaking of the ‘costs’ of ending poverty. Will the NDP use the consultation period on the poverty reduction plan to explain the benefits and cost savings of a strong comprehensive plan? Or will the NDP be ‘neutral’, so making the Poverty Reduction Coalition and allies do all the work to counter the Fraser Institute and conservative?
  5. Do you recognize that the NDP-Green government must come out in full support of ending poverty by ending poor-bashing, committing to strong and bold policies, and taxing the rich?

One of our group members said to you, “We know you are inheriting a huge mess, but people are losing their lives”. We understand the mess the Liberals made, and the devastating effects of their policies. We call upon you, Minister Simpson and your fellow ministers, assistants, deputy ministers, parliamentary secretaries, everyone in office, to push forward bold ideas and an unshakeable commitment to ending poverty. We will continue to change the minds and hearts of the public to come to understand that $610, $710 is not enough to live on, and that a more equal society benefits all. What you must do now is support these ideas publicly, and set an example of what a just, reconciliation-focused BC could actually look like.

In Struggle and Solidarity,

Raise the Rates

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