Protesters are joined by NDP MLAs at a rally in front of the B.C. legislature Wednesday against a charge for bus passes introduced along with an increase in disability assistance.

Protesters call for more disability support

Minister Michelle Stilwell under fire for introducing monthly charge for bus passes along with $77 a month disability assistance increase

Protesters gathered at the B.C. legislature Wednesday to call for an additional increase in provincial disability assistance payments, which are due to go up this year for the first time since 2007.

The increase of $77 a month is to take effect Sept. 1, for disability assistance that now pays $906 a month for a single person. But the program is to begin deducting $52 a month for transit passes available to people who are able to use them, and that has sparked protests.

Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell faced an angry opposition in the legislature after the rally, and again refused to reverse the decision to charge for bus passes. Stilwell said 45,000 people on disability assistance could not use a bus pass, and the change makes the rate fair for everyone.

Faith Bodnar, executive director of the advocacy organization Inclusion BC, told the rally her online petition opposing the change grew quickly to 100,000 people. She argued that bus pass or not, disability assistance rates remain too low.

“Government, all you did was equalize the poverty for people with disabilities in B.C.” Bodnar said.

Stilwell said the rate increase will cost $170 million over the next three years, and adding the bus pass funding to that would cost another $20 million. She and Finance Minister Mike de Jong have insisted they will not retain a system that helps some people more than others.

De Jong said the government is aware of some people taking the free bus passes available to disabled people and selling them on the street for whatever cash they can get. Those people will have the option of taking the entire $77 a month increase instead.

A single employable person without a disability receives $610 a month in income assistance, and that amount is not increased in the B.C. budget presented in February.

 

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

LNG Canada sponsors fast-tracked driver’s license training in Terrace, Kitimat

The $80,000 contribution is part of the company’s commitment to hire locally

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 5: Recap

Highlights and results from day 5 at the All Native Tournament

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read