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

Editor’s view: A Hopeful start to the community’s first 10 km run

Good mix of pomp and circumstance, variable terrain and silliness at Sunday’s run

Lower Mainland could see spring flurries

Snow expected at higher elevations

Auditors couldn’t tell if Fraser Health executives bought booze on taxpayers’ dime

Review from 2014 says one administrator bought Bose headphones on company credit card

Experts detect risk of rock avalanche above Bridal Falls near Chilliwack

Risk in the one-in-10,000-year is minimal but triggers FVRD to direct growth elsewhere

VIDEO: Olympic medalist teaches swimming in Hope

Brent Hayden fondly remembers local swim meet from his youth

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

Ontario father grief stricken over murder of ex-wife and children

‘No words to explain,’ grieving father of slain teens says in statement

LISTEN: Retired broadcaster gives voice to Fraser Valley history

Heritage buff Mark Forsythe introduces Valley Voices, a podcast featuring local history.

Russian Embassy calls Trudeau’s criticism of Putin unproductive

The Russian Embassy is firing back at Trudeau for criticizing President Vladimir Putin

Murder charge upgraded for man accused in Toronto gay village death

Man accused the death of a woman in the Toronto gay village had charge upgraded after new evidence

Former NHL player Theo Fleury visits B.C. First Nations community

Abuse survivor Theo Fleury has been working with communities focusing on healing since 2009 and visited Esketemc First Nation in the Cariboo this week.

A B.C. council takes action in wake of former municipal politician’s sentencing

Dave Murray was sentenced to nine months for a sexual assault that occurred 26 years ago.

Harsher fines, new off-road vehicle rules in effect to combat B.C. wildfires

Anyone who starts a wildfire could be ordered to pay up to $1,000,000

Muddy water found in taps at B.C. hospital prompts investigation

Northern Health to hire consultant to examine three facilities for potential contamination

Most Read