April of this year marks nine years since welfare rates – still frozen at $610 a month for a single person – have gone up. Although the provincial government plans to increase disability rates by $77 a month in September, they also plan to begin charging people who receive the disability pension $669 a year for a bus pass that they now get for $45 a year. This means giving with one hand and taking with the other, and the decision has enraged the many people trying to get by on meagre benefits across this province.
Transit prices are unaffordable for an increasing number of people in British Columbia. But they’re especially costly for recipients of social assistance, who today receive only $375 for housing and $235 for “everything else,” including groceries, bus fare, clothing, emergencies, and otherwise. The expectation is for recipients to budget (somehow) for transit costs, despite their low income. For those receiving welfare, a $2.75 bus ticket is a big deal. I’d like to put this in perspective.