Frozen: BC Welfare Rates Haven't Risen in Eight Years

Welfare rates in BC have not increased in eight years and recipients are increasingly finding that as prices in BC continue to rise, getting by on the existing rates is virtually impossible. The BC government budget released in February did not introduce an increase to the rates and there has been little indication from BC finance minister Mike de Jong that such an increase will be forthcoming in the near future.

A recent article in The Tyee investigates the current realities of surviving on welfare in BC. Tim Hawryluk is a recipient of disability assistance. He receives $906 per month, more than the $610 received by recipients of regular welfare. “Hawryluk, 57, said most of his monthly payment is taken up by rent, which is $706. It increased 2.5 per cent this year and is up from $550 in 2007.” After paying the cost of utilities, Hawryluk is left with $56 a month for food and other expenses. Even though he accesses food banks and other charitable sources of food he still finds that he is “hungry most of the time.”

Trish Garner, community organizer for the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition estimated the cost to raise the rates of welfare recipients a few hundred dollars a month would be around $300 million. By comparison, she “compared that cost to the $227 million in revenue the government gave up by cutting income taxes for people who earn more than $150,000 a year and noted the operating surplus for 2014-15 is approaching $1 billion.”