In 2008, 2009 and 2010 Raise the Rates worked with other community group to organize the Poverty Olympics, a community event with a conscience, highlighting the incongruity between spending on the Olympics and the extreme poverty in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. In 2010, a Poverty Olympics Torch Relay visited communities around the province to raise awareness. Find out more about these events here.
In November 2010, Raise the Rates visited the site of the most expensive homes in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighbourhood. Read the news release.
Meetings with MLA’s
In 2008, Raise the Rates organized meetings with MLAs to tell them what its like living on welfare. Here are some reports:
- The Advocacy Centre organized a meeting between the Nelson/Creston MLA, Corky Evans (NDP) and five people from Nelson who are on income assistance.The meeting took place December 17, 2008 at Corky’s office. Each person gave a brief presentation about their experiences on income assistance.
- The biggest message was that welfare rates, particularly the shelter allowances, were too low given today’s housing and utility costs. Everyone at the meeting was using money from their support allowance to pay for shelter, and three had been homeless within the last year because they couldn’t find a safe, affordable place to live.
- Other issues raised included: – the stigma and stereotypes associated with being on income assistance – the barrier created by the complex Persons With Disabilities application – issues around working and finding affordable child care for children under school age – difficulties in finding out what benefits are available through income assistance and accessing them.
All participants presented extremely well, and Corky listened carefully.
There was some general discussion, and I think people felt heard. We were left with the message that we should continue to organize provincially to get the issues on the table for the election in the spring. On the whole, I think it went well. It is important for people to get a chance to share their concerns with their elected representative.
The Advocacy Centre
201-182 Baker St.
Nelson, BC V1L 4H2
- Dave Diewert reported that Streams of Justice went with 4 people to meet Jenny Kwan and Jagrup Brar, and Vanessa Geary, the NDP policy person on October 16. The people spoke about welfare and raising children, health, work, social stigma and housing and had a discussion afterwards. Jenny said if the NDP were government, they would build 2400 units of social housing now and 1200 per year after that. It was a positive experience and the 4 presenters did well.
- Jean Swanson said that 3 people from Carnegie Community Action Projectmet Jagrup, Vanessa and Chuck Puckmayer, the NDP Labour Critic on October 16.
Everyone did a good job of presenting and the MLAs were polite. There was lots of discussion. The same promise was made about housing but nothing about welfare rates.