The MLA Welfare Challenge is a project of Raise the Rates, a coalition of community groups and organisations concerned with the level of poverty and homelessness in British Columbia.
In 2002, the provincial government cut welfare rates and introduced arbitrary barriers that keep people in need from getting help. Since then, homelessness has at least doubled and BC has more people living below the poverty line than any other province in Canada.
Raise the Rates Demands
Raise the Rates is calling for along term Poverty Reduction Strategy for BC. However, in the short term, 5 simple policy changes would lift hundreds of thousands of BC’s poorest residents out of poverty and homeless people off the streets:
1. Increase income assistance rates to the Market Basket Measure ($1300 a month in Vancouver) and index them to inflation.
2. Remove the arbitrary barriers that keep people in need from receiving income assistance, including the 2-year independence test, the 5-week work search, and restrictions based on citizenship status.
3. Increase the minimum wage to $12/hour and index it to inflation.
4. Build at least 2000 units of affordable non-market housing per year in addition to supportive housing, assisted living units and shelter beds.
5. Increase the tax rate on people who earn over $250,000 a year and reverse the tax cuts to corporations.