Letter to Don McRae and Michelle Mungall

Dear Don McRae (Minister for Social Development) & Michelle Mungall (Opposition Critic),

As you know, over 100 people across British Columbia took part in the 3rd annual Welfare Food Challenge organized by Raise the Rates. You were invited to join the Challenge but decided not to.

We, as Challenge Takers, realized before we started that eating only the food we could purchase for $21, what a single able-bodied person of welfare has, would be difficult. However having finished the week we admit we had no idea how difficult it would be. In only one week of eating in poverty, we noticed the change to our health, our mental state and general well-being. We constantly worried about food, which ceased to be a pleasure; we were irritable, stressed and low on energy. It is impossible to have a filling and nutritious diet on the money provided by welfare. No wonder poverty costs British Columbia $1.2 billion every year in healthcare costs alone.

We cannot imagine how people live like this and are expected to find work. Staying alive must be a fulltime occupation.

We would like to invite you to meet with some of the Welfare Food Challenge Takers – some people did it for one week and some who have done it for months – to hear our experiences, which we believe would help to reach an informed decision on the level of welfare in BC.

(on behalf of the over 100 people who took the 2014 Welfare Food Challenge and the nearly 180,000 people in BC living on welfare)

  • Bif Naked (Musician)
  • Jay-Ann Gilfoy (Senior Vice President, Vancity)
  • Sarah Khan (Lawyer)
  • Derek Gent (Executive Director, Vancity Community Foundation)
  • Irene Lanziger (Secretary Treasurer, BC Federation of Labour)
  • Dr Victoria Lee (Executive Medical Director, Population and Public Health, Fraser Health Authority)
  • Samantha Truong (UBC student)
  • Dr Vanessa Brcic (family physician and researcher UBC)
  • Victor Elkins (President, Hospital Employees’ Union)
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