FROM TALK TO ACTION: RAISE THE RATES PUTS FORWARD RENEWED DEMANDS
Raise the Rates is a campaign supported actively by more than twenty different activist and community groups concerned about the fatal levels of poverty and homelessness in the province of BC. We have been working since 2006 to push the government to raise welfare rates, amongst other policy changes to end poverty.
We know that the BC government is in stages of consultation, feedback, and planning to develop BC’s Poverty Reduction Plan, with a deadline of the fall 2018 for the strategy, and February 2019 with a budget that will lay out the targets and timelines for reducing poverty.
It is time for what we need.
These pieces are not requests from the government, but demands. We demand that the government commit to tackling the depth of poverty through the province. Prioritizing and centring the needs of communities who are deepest in poverty and suffering most through our various crises around the province (homelessness, child apprehension, overdoses, precarious and dangerous work, etc) will lift everyone up.
After years of doing this work, and working to broaden and deepen our understanding of the consequences of poverty, we present our demands for this government, and for future leaders to come. Ending poverty is not only possible, but in everyone’s best interests.
- Raising welfare rates to the federal market basket measure (about $1600/mo for a single person in a city); with disability rates about $300 a month higher;
- Bringing in real rent control so landlords can’t raise rents as much as they like between tenancies; if this is not done probably at least half of any extra money that low income people get through minimum wage increases or welfare increases will go to landlords;
- Building about 10,000 units of social housing a year that is safe, community-controlled, dignified housing that low income people can afford; while the government has talked about social housing, they haven’t committed to building enough to end homelessness and BC Housing wait lists; AND Ending homelessness right away with modular housing; and exploring community-led, community-controlled options for housing
- Overhauling the child welfare system in BC that disproportionately targets Indigenous and racialized mothers in poverty; take the lead from communities in slowing and halting the rate of child apprehensions through preventive measures, supports and actual reconciliation work;
- A comprehensive transit strategy including sliding scale low-income passes and free for youth under 18; transit is an essential piece of community connection;
- Restoring taxes on the rich to pay for these and challenging inequalities and inequities everywhere in our current system. Since the year 2000 the Liberals have been reducing taxes so that now government doesn’t have the revenue to meet people’s needs for services. Unless taxes are restored we can’t get what we need; and unless we turn meaningfully to a system based on justice and equity, we will see the same damages done to our communities.
What is clear to us here is that there are several essential components that must be included in this Poverty Reduction Plan for it to actually look at reducing poverty, and move towards actually ending it. The components we put forward come for decades of anti-poverty organizing in low-income neighbourhoods, primarily on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh lands in so-called Vancouver. Several different community groups organized our own consultations, and we have heard much from our friends, neighbours, allies, and strangers. It is clear that we cannot just sit back now and expect the government to get it right; too long have governments boasted about “consultation” without any action, follow-through, or choosing just to cherry-pick the easiest solutions.