Increase B​.​C. Income and Disability Assistance Rates: We Need The #300ToLive!

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TJ Tupechka
TJ Tupechka signed this petition

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We are a coalition of disabled and neurodivergent people calling on the B.C. Government to: 

  • maintain the $300/month increase to income and disability assistance rates;
  • permanently raise income assistance rates to at least the poverty line, indexed to inflation; and
  • ensure that increases to income assistance and disability assistance include a clear, earmarked increase to the shelter portion.

As disabled and neurodivergent people, we are deeply aware that our communities are struggling in inhumane conditions and living in poverty at the existing rates. For three months during the COVID-19 pandemic, the B.C. Government temporarily increased income and disability assistance by way of a $300/month supplement. This increase has significantly helped disabled people gain access to basic necessities and improve our quality of life.

While the new rates for both income and disability assistance are still below B.C.’s official poverty line¹ ², it allowed many disabled people to:

  • Provide healthy food and clothing for themselves and their families
  • Afford life-sustaining medication and therapy
  • Access safe shelter and housing
  • Avoid being forced to choose between which bills to pay
  • Prevent extreme rationing and starvation at the end of the month
  • Temporarily stop engaging in survival sex work to make ends meet
  • Break out of poverty and debt cycles³

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the only crisis to have hit our communities. Under existing provincial legislation and policy, disabled and neurodivergent people on assistance have been living in an ongoing crisis of poverty, inaccessibility, and injustice.⁴

We say: the $300 increase needs to stay. If the B.C. Government discontinues the supplement and reverts back to the old rates, disabled and neurodivergent people will continue to struggle to meet basic needs, while also facing additional costs and barriers due to the pandemic.

Although the B.C. Government has deemed the $300 increase a temporary emergency measure, the conditions created by COVID-19 will persist, especially for disabled people in high risk groups. While the rest of the world is gearing to return to normal activities, many disabled people are still being advised to stay home. We continue to live with deep restrictions, unable to work or access food, supplies, and supports. We continue to face added financial pressures, including delivery fees, increased utility bills from staying home, telecommunications costs, and alternatives to now inaccessible medical care and home supports. Until a vaccine is developed, we face a new reality of living with COVID-19. 

When lockdown restrictions loosen and the economy reopens, we cannot revert to a pre-pandemic “normal”. Our “normal” was already unliveable. Our ongoing socioeconomic situation is one of deepening poverty as we face skyrocketing costs and limited access to food, supplies, healthcare, employment, and housing. We require new supports to begin to help us meet these changes. Income and disability assistance rates urgently need to be raised to liveable amounts. Any withdrawal of increases will cost the lives of the most vulnerable in our province.

We call on the B.C. Government to: 

  • maintain the $300/month increase to income and disability assistance rates;
  • permanently raise income assistance rates to at least the poverty line, indexed to inflation; and
  • ensure that increases to income assistance and disability assistance include a clear, earmarked increase to the shelter portion.

Signed:
300 To Live
A Better Life Foundation
All Bodies Dance Project
Autistics United Comox Valley
Autistics United Vancouver
Brain Resource, Advocacy & Information Network
Chronically Queer
Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods
Disability Alliance BC
Downtown Eastside SRO Collaborative
Health Justice
People In Motion
Radical Access Mapping Project
Richmond Poverty Response Committee
Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group
Tenant Overdose Response Organizers
The Voice of the Cerebral Palsied of Greater Vancouver
Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society

Supported by:
Atira Women's Resource Society
Aboriginal Front Door Society
BC ACORN
BC Federation of Students
BC Health Coalition
BC Non-Profit Housing Association
BC Poverty Reduction Coalition
Canada Special Needs Taekwondo Association
Central City Foundation
Community Legal Assistance Society
Cushy Entertainment
Eco-Justice Unit, Anglican Church, Diocese of New Westminster
Eternal Seed
Hope Action Values Ethics Culinary Training Society
Together Against Poverty Society
Meanwhile in Sooke
Megaphone Magazine
North Island Students' Union
PACE Society
Pacific Association of First Nations Women
Pivot Legal Society
Portage Legal Services
Potluck Cafe Society
Renfrew-Collingwood Food Security Institute
Union Gospel Mission
Vancouver Queer Spoon Share
WePress Community Arts Space Society
West Coast LEAF


¹ Statistics Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). 2020. Report on the second comprehensive review of the Market Basket Measure. The poverty line for an individual in Vancouver, as defined by 2018-base MBM thresholds, is $2028/month.
² BC Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. 2019. Disability Assistance Rate Table.
³ Based on over 300 responses to #300ToLive’s online survey
⁴ Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods & BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. 2017. Sharing Our Realities: Life on Disability Assistance in British Columbia