This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Welfare rates are starvation rates
THIS WEEK’S TOPIC: Should the B.C. government raise welfare rates?
Most of you likely woke up in a nice, warm bed today, then headed off to a warm shower and a quick breakfast before work. You will probably have a good lunch and many of you will either stop at the grocery store tonight on the way home, or stop to pick up take-out food.
Your life is full of choices.
For thousands of British Columbian’s on social assistance — including many who read our weekly columns — choice isn’t an option, and sometimes eating isn’t either.
Hardest hit without a doubt are the single men and women who have to live on $610 a month while trying to get back on their feet.
Last week, Vancouver-based musician Bif Naked announced she will be taking part in this year’s Welfare Food Challenge. For one week, she’ll have to survive on whatever she can buy for $21.
According to Raise the Rates, after deducting rent, transit tickets, room deposit and laundry-hygiene funds from the $610 monthly payment, approximately $84 is left for food for the month, or $21 a week. It’s a pittance and nearly impossible to buy nutritious food, let alone enough of anything to keep your body properly sustained.
Read Brent Stafford’s column here.
Former MLA Jagrup Brar found this out in 2012 when he took the challenge and lived for 30 days on the single-person rate. He lost 26 pounds and discovered why it’s so hard to get off social assistance once you get on – people are dragged into a vicious cycle that’s nearly impossible to overcome.
Most people think they can get a job easily enough, then discover how hard it is without reliable access to food, showers, and finding clothes suitable for interviews. Just surviving day to day is a struggle insurmountable to some, which is why the cycle continues…
Read the rest of this week’s column, vote and comment at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/10/05/welfare-rates-are-starvation-rates:I