B.C. budget: giving and taking

As she travels the province, Premier Christy Clark is claiming her government prides itself in “lifting people out of poverty.”

As she travels the province selling her 2016 budget, Premier Christy Clark is claiming her government prides itself in “lifting people out of poverty.”

Indeed, government did announce about a $77/month rate increase for people receiving provincial disability benefits beginning Sept. 1. It’s been almost a decade since the last increase in disability benefits and anyone who pays for rent, food, clothing and other living expenses knows how much these items have increased over the years.

At a quick glance this looks like a much needed increase, bringing their monthly benefit to a whopping $983. But along with the increase to their benefits, government has decided to claw back their transportation subsidy and bus pass amounts.

This means that out of that new $77 a month increase, people living on disability benefits will now have to pay $55.75 for their transportation costs. This leaves a meagre $21.25 a month extra to help with their living expenses. But wait there’s more. Government has also decided to retain the yearly $45 processing fee too — yet another claw back!

Once you consider the claw backs they’ve made, it’s hard to believe government’s claim about “lifting people out of poverty.”

Our Parksville Qualicum MLA, Michele Stilwell, is the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, the ministry that administers disability benefits, and therefore a significant party to this new policy. She and her government must be held accountable for yet another smoke and mirrors announcement giving to people on disability pensions with one hand, and then taking it away with the other. Let’s not forget this on election day.

Clair SchumanParksville

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