Anti-poverty activists walked 15 km from B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s office in Point Grey to NDP Leader Adrian Dix’s constituency office in Joyce Collingwood Wednesday as part of their ongoing campaign aimed at raising welfare rates.
The demonstrators delivered letters to both leaders calling on them to commit to a poverty reduction strategy.
Bill Hopwood with Raise the Rates said about 80 people took part in the march throughout the day, which began at 10 a.m. in Point Grey and concluded at 4 p.m. on Joyce Street.
“The aim is to make the leaders of the government and the opposition aware of public feeling, make them aware of the issues…hopefully convince them that doing something is a good idea,” he told the Straight.
“Tommy Douglas didn’t do a focus group to decide that Canada needed a public health system,” he added. “He knew it in his bones, and he worked for it and he built a campaign. Politicians today too much listen to advisors and focus groups, rather than what is doing the right thing, and we would hope that politicians do the right thing by raising welfare as part of an anti-poverty strategy.”
Dix spoke with the advocates and accepted the letter from two Vancouver residents on disability.
“Can you find a place to live at $375? That’s not a lot, and we really need to see some change in this, because people are suffering,” Phoenix Winter told Dix.
Dix thanked the advocates for bringing attention to the issues, and said the NDP will be announcing their platform for the election campaign later – which he indicated will reflect the party’s “desire to address poverty”.
“We’re obviously concerned by the fact that inequality in B.C. is higher than any other province in the country,” he told the Straight following the demonstration. “That includes people on income assistance, it also includes a lot of families who are working, and so there are real challenges and we have to deal with them within our means.”
Dix noted that NDP MLA Jagrup Brar lived for a month on the B.C. income assistance rate.
“It’s obviously hard for people to make ends meet,” he said. “The challenge is to decide, because there are significant needs all over the place, where to start. Because we’re going to have to do this one step at a time.”