People Next To The Bottom Are Expected To Live On $3.38/hr

By April 29, 2014Letters

Dear Editor. I see time and again either one union or another going on strike, demanding more pay, in this province (the BCTF is famous for this year after year). They claim that the salaries that they are receiving are not sufficient to live on in today’s British Columbia.

While I might agree with the sentiment, I have to ask the question: If these unions can’t afford to live, then how in the heck can a person who can’t find a job and is forced to live on welfare afford it?

The BC provincial government has, for years, refused to raise the amount that it pays to those unfortunate souls who are forced onto welfare.

For the past seven years the maximum amount that a single person can receive for housing in BC is $375.00, while the average rent for even a room is $450.00! Seems to me that there’s quite a gap there!

Of course the maximum overall is $610.00 for a single person, but after paying that $450 for rent, and then paying for things that are necessary for a person to look for work, like a phone and basic transportation, there is only $40-60 left for food!

Someone please tell me, where can a person feed him or herself for just $40-60 a month! I’d love to know so I can shop there too!

While those whom have strong unions to back them have at least a position of strength to negotiate from and demand fair rate increases, those marginalized people on welfare have absolutely no power whatsoever and must timidly accept the completely substandard pittance the BC government decides to set as the rate for them.

I don’t begrudge the unions for demanding better pay at all. As a matter of fact, I say, ‘Go for it!’ What I do see as totally wrong, however, is that while unions can (and do) make the assertions that they cannot live on $25+ per hour, those who need help the most are forced by our government to live on what equates to $3.38 per hour!

As our provincial minimum wage is $10.25 per hour (what they have set as the bare minimum a person need to live), the government should be raising the welfare rates to meet that minimum. That would mean a single person would receive (if we deduct what would be the normal taxes) $1328.00 per month. Dare I say a much more manageable figure to live on in this, the most expensive province in Canada.

According to a study done by the Fraser Institute, “The BC government has set welfare benefits so that total social assistance roughly coincides with the basic needs level. And even in situations where social assistance is not quite enough to meet all of the basic needs, it doesn’t mean that these British Columbians are starving or going without adequate shelter.”


Of course this study was paid for by the BC government, so it wouldn’t dare to contradict their own agenda and assertions.

Have the people who completed the study ever been on welfare? No!

Have they talked to any people whom are on welfare and have to wonder how they are going to eat AND pay rent, as they cannot afford to do both? No.

It’s high time that the BC government lived up to its own promises and paid these people what they have already determined what the bare minimum is….minimum wage!

After all, it’s kind of hypocritical to declare an amount as rock bottom and then pay only a third of that to people and claim it’s sufficient.

The way I see it anyway.

Charles Parent

Join the discussion One Comment

  • wordsmith says:

    “As our provincial minimum wage is $10.25 per hour (what they have set as the bare minimum a person need to live….”

    The minimum wage is not set according to the amount required for a person to live – frugally – on. Setting the minimum wage is a matter of politics, not what it costs a person to live.

    The disconnect between what the minimum wage is and the actual amount needed to live in the lower mainland with its onerous housing costs is what has give wage to the concept and push for a ‘living wage’ – the amount a person actually needs to earn in order to reside and eat in the lower mainland.

    Which is why 18% [and climbing] of those who use the Abbotsford Food Bank are employed.

    The fact that living beyond our means has resulted in both the provincial and federal governments finding themselves in a financial straitjacket is why the
    provincial government ‘raised’ the welfare rates by allowing those on basic welfare to earn income for the first time and raised the amounts allowable for those with multiple barriers and on disability.

    If the provincial government wanted to make a major increase in income assistant levels it would need to cut something by that amount.

    Given the reality of the provincial governments finances and budget Education and Healthcare are the only areas of the budget with sufficient funding to provide the funding for increased income assistance levels.

    I am not saying that the income assistance levels should not be raised, I am asking what cuts to education and/or healthcare will you make to fund the increased levels?

    Tao of James: Reality does not care what you want to be true, what you believe to be true, what you wish to be true – Reality simply is.

    Until politicians, voters and taxpayers are willing to move from willful denial to a place where they are willing to see, examine and set the governments priorities for spending based on the financial and budget REALITY that IS in BC……there is no money available to increase spending on education in any significant [or insignificant] way; the amount of healthcare services available will continue to decrease every year [the funds available to purchase healthcare services will continue to purchase less healthcare every year]; the funding for social program needs will be less and less adequate [more and more inadequate] to meet the needs of our society resulting in ever increasing unfairness and inequality.

    Speaking of reality – the reality is that it is only necessary to move from wilful denial to facing and addressing reality if we want to influence the ability of the provincial [and federal] governments to create conditions that permit us to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

    Politicians, voters and taxpayers cannot – at this point in time – be forced to abandon wilful denial setting spending priorities for governments and choosing what services government will provide and what services will be reduce or eliminated.

    At some point in time, a point in time not far removed from today, financial reality will assert itself and, like anyone using debt to maintain their unaffordable lifestyle, politicians, voters and taxpayers will be impoverished and in dire financial states.

    And before wilful denial asserts its self with “Oh that cannot happen to a province/country” I suggest you take a good look at what is going on with California’s budget reality and massive spending cuts; and remember they said the same about major cities – until Detroit went bankrupt.

    Reality does not care what you want to be true,
    Reality does not care what you believe to be true,
    Reality does not care what you wish to be true;
    Reality simply is.

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