At $610, welfare rates haven’t seen an increase in a decade.
At the heart of an election, an anti-poverty activist says a massive increase is needed.
Raise the Rates volunteer Jean Swanson says the average cost of an SRO these days takes up more than three quarters of a person’s welfare check.
“Average rent in a privately owned and run SRO is $548 a day, that leaves people with $2 a day.”
“We need a massive increase, there hasn’t been anything for a decade.”
Swanson says rates need to more than double to $1,500.
That’s going by the federal government basket measure to live minimally.
When asked if she thinks that’s realistic…
“It would have to be enough to pay rent. And do other things that people need to do. Eat, ride the bus, laundry and stuff.”
“The rate would have to go up by hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a single person, $400 maybe”
Several SROs in Vancouver have come under fire over the years for lack of livability.
The BC NDP says if elected it will increase welfare rates by $100 a month, and increase the income exemption by $200 a month.
Swanson says she has some concerns about the BC NDP’s welfare plan ahead of the May 9 election, she says it’s a dicey move.
“It’s interesting because people do want to be able to earn more money. But you have to be really careful that it’s not used as a way to supplement for low wage employers. You know people will then hire people on welfare when they won’t hire other people because they don’t have to pay them enough to live.”
The BC Liberals have stood by their plan to continue to freeze the rates, with party leader Christy Clark saying the Liberals are trying to move people on welfare into the work force.
The Green have also promised an increase.