Vancouver motion in support of Raise the Rates could be considered at Lower Mainland meeting
A call from a B.C. anti-poverty coalition for the provincial government to raise welfare rates is the subject of a resolution that Vancouver city council is set to consider submitting to B.C. municipalities.
Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer wants to see a motion in support of the Raise the Rates recommendation submitted for consideration to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association convention in May.
The motion is one of a series being considered by council Tuesday (March 12) in advance of the Lower Mainland meeting. The resolution could then be sent to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver in September 2013—the first meeting following the provincial election.
“Regardless of the outcome of the election, it’ll be a new government of some sort, and our hope is to get it on their radar,” Reimer said in a phone interview.
The motion, which was approved by Vancouver city council in May 2012, calls for support of three of the Raise the Rates Coalition’s demands, including a call to increase provincial income assistance rates to the Market Basket Measure.
“When you’re talking about welfare, it’s not about a living wage, it’s about a survival income, and there’s a strong argument that people right now are living below anything that you could consider a survival income,” said Reimer.
She said that municipalities are “on the front line” of the issue, and argued that it’s impossible to discuss affordable housing without also addressing the issue of income. The motion that council passed in May 2012 was related to a broader set of recommendations about social and supportive housing.
“There’s the cost of housing to the individual, but there’s also the income that they’re able to bring in, and it’s the gap between the cost of housing and the income that creates the crisis of poverty,” said Reimer.
“If income is stagnant, particularly for those most vulnerable who are on social assistance, then you’re only going to get so far with building affordable housing. And the rate situation in British Columbia was appalling in 2001, and it’s just gotten into the ridiculously appalling zone.”
The income assistance rate in B.C. for a single person expected to work is $610 a month.
Changes to B.C. income assistance policies in October 2012 allowed expected-to-work clients a $200 a month earnings exemption, and an $800 monthly earnings exemption for people receiving disability assistance.