Vancouver – I am a lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society and a member of the 2016 Pivot Legal Welfare Food Challenge Team. I’ve been working for years with people experiencing homelessness and marginal housing, focusing on what systemic changes are needed to improve their circumstances. The first change is a raise to income assistance. Not only are people starving, they are being criminalized for trying to make ends meet. Whether it’s being ticketed for street vending, run out of town for panhandling, evicted from a park for sleeping there or getting caught stealing food. There is one systemic change that would likely make a difference to every single person I work with – raise the rates.
As a lawyer I look for ways to change the law for the benefit of people who are marginalized in society. But changing laws can only get you so far and when it comes to income assistance rates, lawsuits aren’t the answer. Government action is.
A provincial election is coming. We can’t let this election pass without ensuring that every major political party promises that they will prioritize raising income assistance to a livable rate.