City of Vancouver Calls for Welfare to be Raised

The City of Vancouver has urged the provincial government to act on poverty.

The following was passed in a resolution of City Council on May 29, 2012.

FURTHER THAT Council support the Raise the Rates Coalition in urging the Provincial Government to 

(a) remove arbitrary barriers that prevent people in need from receiving provincial Income Assistance such as the 2-year independence test and 3-week work search;

(b) end clawbacks that prevent people from supplementing their welfare with paid work and single parents receiving support from the absent parent up to the Market Basket Measure; and

(c) increase provincial Income Assistance rates to the Market Basket Measure, the minimum monthly cost required for food, shelter, transportation and other basic needs as determined by the federal government

Vancouver City Council, May 29th, 2012

BC has the worst overall poverty rate, child poverty rate and biggest inequality gap of any Canadian province. This requires bold action to change – as Jagrup Brar explained BC is a rich province and we can do better.

In light of the levels of poverty and Vancouver’s resolution, the announcement on June 11 of changes to welfare rules from the government is a mixed response.

  • Allowing people with disabilities and those seeking work to keep some earnings is welcome although the limit it still too low to be effective.
  • The failure to end the claw back of child support from absent parents is a missed opportunity which continues to penalize children in poverty.
  • The barriers to receiving welfare have been increased with a wait time of 5 weeks rather than 3 – two more weeks of utter destitution, because a person has to have virtually no money before they can apply for welfare.
  • Providing dental services to children in poverty simply makes long-term health sense.
  • However the welfare rate for all categories remains far below the poverty line. As Jagrup Brar found out welfare is also below the starvation line.

BC is the only province or territory in Canada, with the exception of Saskatchewan, with out a province-wide anti-poverty strategy. It is time to act.


The resolution was part of a longer one dealing with Homelessness and related issues (it is on page 6 of the minutes at this link: http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120529/documents/regu20120529min.pdf)

Raise the Rates (http://raisetherates.org/) is a coalition of community groups that want governments to reduce poverty inBritish Columbia.