Minister, Is $21 a Week Enough for Food?

Yep, that’s about it. Doesn’t make a Mom with children feel very valued. In fact, it still feels like the abuse I endured while living with my husband trying to protect my children from being internationally abducted to Iran. Those on Social Assistance are suppose to provide proof they have done these things every day to look for work. I’m not sure how I can do that when I can’t even afford to buy food. For the record I have been trying to qualify for a Person With a Disability for the last 8 months, currently I receive about $1,000/month (last month it was about $1,050) from Social Assistance for one child and myself. My rent is $850/month not including a phone or utilities. I live off the Canada Child Tax Benefit of $250 for my child. I don’t qualify for a bus pass a benefit just eliminated for PWD, or dental assistance. Oh sure, we go to the Food Bank when I can get a lift there to bring the food home; although I`m not sure its really worth going because 2 days later most of the fresh fruit, vegetables, and bread have all gone bad because they were donated food the local stores had to remove from their shelves because they were past their expiry date. If my other child, who recently turned 18, lived at home and worked, the government would deduct the equivalent amount of employment earnings from my Social Assistance cheque because dependent children are suppose to contribute towards the family`s expenses. I would prefer her employment earnings go towards her education or her future independence. It is her life; she shouldn`t be taking care of her Mom. Instead she moved in with her boyfriend. I sure hope she doesn`t get pregnant. We don’t qualify for the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) because I am unable to get a court order because my husband is avoiding being served. Legal Aid when I filed for divorce told me they didn’t do division of family assets, child support, or spousal support. I guess I should contact the new MP and MLA since the change in government to see if they can help me now. The previous government never once met with me over the last 5 years since my husband abandoned us, stole everything and fled the country. With the schools closing and the lack of support from our government, I feel like the government are abusing our children and making them support their parents. In fact it doesn’t feel like anything has changed, its still an abusive relationship only now its not my husband who is abusing us. I guess we could downsize from our small, ground-floor 2 bedroom apartment and move into a 1 bedroom currently renting for $700 – not sure how much that would help. Nor can I envision a 1 bedroom with 3 people. The current system doesn`t help my stress level… my doctor tells me that I have to give my brain a break in order for it to heal. I`m not sure how I can do that when the abuse hasn`t really stopped. Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.

BC Employment and Assistance Caseload Statistics



 $21 worth of groceries

Individuals dependent on the provincial government for financial assistance in British Columbia have about $21 a week to spend on food, according to the organizers of the Welfare Food Challenge that launched this week.

Asked if $21 a week is enough for food, the minister for social development Michelle Stilwell said, “I think certainly the comprehensive support system we have in place for individuals on income assistance and persons with disabilities helps support them in a multitude of ways.”

So, does that mean Stilwell thinks $21 a week is plenty for food? “It’s more important to ensure we are providing services and supports for individuals on income assistance that will help them have their best foot forward, to ensure they have an opportunity to find employment to make a better life for both their families and their children,” she said.

When Raise the Rates organized the first Welfare Food Challenge in 2012, the advocacy group figured welfare recipients had about $26 a week for food. That amount has since dropped, as assistance rates have remained frozen in B.C. despite increases to expenses like rent and transportation.

Stilwell responded to a question about the drop by saying, “When we have an opportunity to look at increasing the rates, we will look at that at a time that’s fiscally possible.”

“B.C. has some of the worst poverty in Canada,” he said, adding that one out of five children live in poverty in B.C., the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction plan.

It has been 8.5 years since welfare and disability rates were increased. MLAs have received raises during that time, Hopwood noted.


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