Wel­fare chal­lenge gets can­celled

Liv­ing on a wel­fare re­cip­i­ent’s bud­get would leave only $6 per week to live after hous­ing paid

StarMetro Vancouver - - VANCOUVER - ALEX MC­K­EEN

An annual aware­ness cam­paign that chal­lenges Bri­tish Columbians to eat on a wel­fare re­cip­i­ent’s bud­get for a week won’t take place this year be­cause the cal­cu­lated food bud­get is too low to buy even three loaves of bread.

Raise the Rates, a B.C. coali­tion of anti-poverty and hous­ing ad­vo­cates, has run the Wel­fare Food Chal­lenge since 2012. Each year, or­ga­niz­ers cal­cu­late how much money B.C. wel­fare re­cip­i­ents would have left for food each week after they have paid for a cheap room, some bus tick­ets and ba­sic hy­giene sup­plies.

Last year the amount was $19. This year — even with­out bud­get­ing for hy­giene and a phone — the money left over Vancouver city coun­cil­lor Jean Swan­son hopes the can­cel­la­tion of the wel­fare chal­lenge will alert the pub­lic to the “dire” state of wel­fare in this prov­ince.

after rent is $6 per week.

Based on a B.C. Cen­tre for Dis­ease Con­trol re­port re­leased last month, the min­i­mum cost for a week’s worth of healthy food in 2017 would be around $68.40 for a woman and $80.40 for a man.

The $6 bud­get, ac­cord­ing

to Raise the Rates vol­un­teer and re­cently elected Vancouver city coun­cil­lor Jean Swan­son, is too lit­tle to ask any­one to live off of, even for a week.

She wrote an op-ed in The Tyee this week ex­plain­ing that the chal­lenge could not take place this year.

Reached by Starmetro on Wed­nes­day, Swan­son said the rea­son the food bud­get Raise the Rates cal­cu­lated went down so much in 2018 was a spike in hous­ing costs.

Learn more about wel­fare aware­ness at thes­tar.com/vancouver

JEN­NIFER GAUTHIER FOR STARMETRO

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