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‘Trying to survive’: Vancouver Island disability advocates, MLA demand more funding

The latest provincial budget included $558 million for further income and disability assistance

Disability advocates and Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen of the BC Greens are asking for the government of B.C. to provide more financial assistance for people with disabilities.

The 2023-24 provincial budget announced Feb. 28 included $558 million for further income and disability assistance.

“This government definitely needs to do much much better than they are right now for people living with disabilities,” Olsen said. “We’re missing the target here in British Columbia.”

Olsen said British Columbians on disability and income supplements are $10,000 below the poverty line.

“It’s a matter of providing the level of funding that’s needed in order to be able to have enough to put food on the table and enough for shelter.”

B.C. is increasing its monthly income assistance shelter rate by $125 per month across the board beginning in July.

“There’s no doubt that $125 is going to be a welcome addition for people who are living so far below the poverty line,” Olsen said. “That’s still $2,000 below what’s needed in order to just meet the basic poverty line. The cost of living is increasing. We are seeing this great disparity between the amount that people live on and the amount they need. It’s unfortunate, and it’s inappropriate.”

Disability advocate Sonjia Grandahl also said the increase of $125 per month isn’t enough.

“Every dollar counts as inflation is really high, and groceries are expensive,” Grandahl said. “We need that extra $125 as soon as possible. Waiting until July is just too long.”

Olsen gathered with disability advocates outside the B.C. Legislature to call for additional disability funding Thursday (March 30).

“We need money in the pockets of people who are disabled,” disability advocate Jeff Leggat said. “People with disabilities are desperately underfunded. Right now all they’re doing is trying to survive.”

According to the most recent Canadian Survey on Disability from 2017, approximately 917,000 or 23 per cent of working-age Canadians with disabilities live in poverty.

READ MORE : Saanich park renovation excludes people with disabilities: advocate


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Brendan Mayer

About the Author: Brendan Mayer

I spent my upbringing in Saskatoon, and in 2021, I made the move to Vancouver Island.
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