#WelfareFoodChallenge2017 has launched

Press release

For immediate release–

November 1st 2017


While the government has implemented the election promise of raising income assistance by $100, Raise the Rates has launched their 6th Annual Welfare Food Challenge to highlight that this is not enough. The point of the challenge is to raise public awareness on the inhumanely low welfare rates. Raise the Rates challenges the public to live on just $19/week for food.

“Last year, the challenge was set at $18. Only $1 more in a week for food, even with the increase. This is because of the rising cost of rent, lack of rent control, cost of living”, says Kell Gerlings, organizer with Raise the Rates. “We know it’s not enough, the minister knows it is not enough, so what is stopping the government from acting to end poverty, not legislate it further?”

At the launch, just outside of the Nofrills on East Hastings St, low-income speakers spoke on the difficulties of living on only $19/week.  “This is what I have to live on,” says Erica Grant, a community member in the Downtown Eastside, pointing to the basket of “welfare diet” food, “ramen noodles. I know it’s not healthy. But I have no choice. It’s just shameful the way we are treated.”

“We do this challenge so that more and more people can understand the impossible situation that people on welfare face. It’s not about ‘just budget better’–it is the fact that people are being kept in poverty. And if the government really wants to show their commitment to reducing or ending poverty, then rates need to be raised,” says Gerlings. “Food banks and free meals won’t solve poverty. Poverty is political, it is a policy choice.”

The Welfare Food Challenge runs until Tuesday November 7th. While the challenge only lasts a week, people on welfare are actively living this challenge with no choice to quit, every day. “This is why we need welfare rates to be increased. The government should not use consultation to stall on doing the actual things that need to be done. We have the solutions. Raise the rates.”

pictures by Carnegie Community Action Project: