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

Tsunami warning had Peninsula crews on standby

The tsunami warning that got some Greater Victoria residents scrambling for high… Continue reading

Sirens don’t sing in tsunami warning for Esquimalt

Officials pleased with process, say sirens would have been activated had threat escalated.

Elizabeth May reaches out to Sidney through town hall

Marijuana cultivation in Central Saanich crops up during meeting

BC Boat Show sails back to Sidney

Port Sidney Marina hosting event May 3 to 6

Vic-Alert faces tidal wave of registration after tsunami warnings

City of Victoria system is free and provides early warnings of disaster

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Butchart Gardens is hiring now and paying more

Wages start at $15, job fair Feb. 20

Victoria’s most wanted for the week of Jan. 23

Crime Stoppers will pay a reward of up to $2,000 for information that leads to arrests or the seizure of property or drug

Cash still needed for Stelly’s Cross Path

MLA Olsen wants more specifics first

Babcock, Goyette and Smyth honoured at Order of Hockey in Canada

Mike Babcock, from Saskatoon, guided the Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 2008

Bell Canada alerts customers who may be affected by latest data breach

Federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner said it had been notified

‘The tsunami alarm failed my household’: North Coast residents concerned over sirens, alerts

People living in northern communities share how they learned about Tuesday’s tsunami warning

Most Read