Online petition and media heat boost pressure on premier to restore transit passes for people with disabilities

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      The B.C. Liberal government is coming under fire for its mean-spirited approach to low-income people in its recent budget.

      The Early Edition, which is CBC Radio's flagship local program, has been pounding away at the budget's lack of support for tenants.

      Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason has zeroed in on a meagre $77 monthly increase in benefits for people with disabilities. This modest boost came at the same time as the government was taking away their transit passes.

      Meanwhile, his colleague Mike Hager highlighted how the budget has failed to help families.

      The transit-pass issue has also generated coverage on Global News and drawn the ire of CKNW Radio's Shane "Ma man" Foxman, who's hosting the Drex Live how this week.

      But the first one out of the gate was columnist Bill Tieleman, who's been writing about the B.C. Liberal government's treatment of people with disabilities dating back to Gordon Campbell's first term as premier.

      Tieleman's blog features the most comprehensive look at the shell game being played by Finance Minister Mike de Jong and Premier Christy Clark. 

      It's likely not what they were anticipating. And the coverage reflects how out of touch they are with the financial challenges that people are facing in their daily lives.

      (One of the best analyses of the B.C. budget came in this policy note by Iglika Ivanova of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.)

      Meanwhile, more than 2,600 people have signed an online petition demanding that Clark restore the $45 per year bus pass for people with disabilities.

      The petition also calls for the elimination of a new $52 per month bus pass while allowing people with disabilities to continue receiving more benefits.

      "Having increased by only $120 since 2001, BC disability benefit rates of $906/month are among the lowest in the country; yet we live in one of the most expensive provinces," the petition states. "People with disabilities struggle with impossible pressures, including whether to get a bit of extra money to buy food or take the bus. We are falling behind and desperately need a rate increase that reflects the cost of living in BC."