to disprove beliefs about poverty, that simply aren’t true.
Myth #1: Jobs are the answer
Not all seniors in BC are making ends meet, and working is often not an option to lift them out of poverty. “Get a job” doesn’t cut it for seniors in BC!
Sonny Gill (Farm Worker) lives in Abbotsford with her daughter-in-law and her granddaughter. Both her husband and her son have passed away. She is in her late 60s now. She struggles to make ends meet on her pension. Prior to retiring, she picked berries for 14 years. When she first started picking berries, they paid 22 cents per pound; now, they pay 40 cents. She feels that there should be more services and care for the elderly in BC. “My son died, it’s just me and my daughter-in-law now. I have to look after my granddaughter so my daughter-in-law can go to work.”
Jonquil (Director of Non-Profit Organization) is a 59 year old woman who lives in Surrey with her adult daughter. She has a rare form of severe arthritis and is now wheelchair-bound. Jonquil struggles to make ends meet on disability, in particular because of the expenses that come with having a disability. She volunteers as the executive director of the Surrey Urban Mission, a centre that caters to marginalized populations. She works between 40-70 hours a week overseeing the Mission, which she describes not as a work commitment but as a lifestyle.
- Seniors Vulnerability Report, United Way
- Discussion on senior’s economic security, United Way
- Inequality and Poverty in Seniors, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
- Seniors’ housing in B.C., Seniors Advocates
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Ask her to commit to establishing a Poverty Reduction Plan for BC. With clear targets and timelines, this is the only way to make sure we tackle poverty at its roots.
Add your name to the close to 30,000 British Columbians who understand that the minimum wage should allow all workers to live above the poverty line!
A Living Wage is one that allows families to cover their basic expenses, such as food, clothing, shelter and transportation. What’s the difference? Increasing the minimum wage can be a strong first step towards establishing a wage that allows families to thrive, not just survive!
Why Poverty Myth Busters?
Whether you’re at a party, having dinner with your parents, at the bus stop, or listening the news, whenever there’s a discussion about poverty, you will no doubt hear things like “the situation in BC isn’t that bad”, how “the poor are lazy” and they “just need to get a job“, or that “those on welfare are taking advantage of our world-renowned social assistance programs.”
This is why the Poverty Free Action Team has launched this campaign. It’s time to bust these poverty myths and get to the root of the problem!
But, did you know that BC has had one of the highest poverty rates for the last 15 years? Not only that, we have one of the lowest minimum wages in Canada; inadequate welfare and disability rates that have not increased in eight years; almost no childcare support for parents with small children; and some of the most expensive cities in the world to live in.
And BC is now the last province in Canada to commit to having a poverty reduction plan!
So while the ideas you often hear about poverty almost seem to make sense – especially if the person saying it is a friend, a relative, or even a professor – they are in fact incorrect! They are myths that put the blame on the less fortunate for their situation, while reneging on our collective responsibility and values of caring for each other, supporting those who need it, and making sure that we all share equally in the wealth and beauty of our communities.
This series of posters and videos will build a continuing campaign to dispel a variety of these common misconceptions. The next one is coming out soon, so make sure to check the site often!
Donna Howe (Nurse’s Assistant) is a single parent in her late 50s. She works at a residential care facility but is currently in a dispute with management and has been forced to take the last 2 months off as medical leave without pay. She feels that she is being bullied by her employer who wants to hire younger staff for less money. She is getting by on savings but fears she won’t have enough money to pay her rent in the next few months. She has no money to go back to school to re-train and is concerned about her future.
Rose Henry (On-Call Worker/First Nations Human Rights Advocate) sees poverty as part of a long history of oppression. She came to Victoria with hopes of getting an education to get out of poverty but she struggled as a student and a single parent. She was no longer able to continue at school when band funding was restructured. She and her partner struggle every month with the high cost of living. She has skipped a lot of meals because her family needed food. She continues to work hard to make ends meet and advocate for aboriginal rights in her community.
William Elder (Community Activist) was born and raised in Surrey. He was recently evicted from an apartment that was plagued by untreated black mold in the bathroom, which resulted in an altercation with the landlord. He worked in security for over 40 years but he had to leave due to respiratory illness. He is mostly house bound and requires support for home care. He receives disability benefits of $906 per month, but this is reduced dollar for dollar by the CPP disability he receives at $527.51. By the time his bills are paid, he is usually left with only $75 to $150 per month for groceries.
Minimum wage facts:
BC has one of the lowest minimum wages in Canada, and we have the highest cost of living. Not only that, BC’s minimum wage has been frozen for more than two years and is set on an ad hoc basis with no guaranteed regular review, leaving workers at the mercy of political whims. Currently, full-time minimum-wage workers are living below the poverty line, and a single mother working full-time, year-round, in a minimum wage job will find herself thousands of dollars below the poverty line. The Fight for 15 campaign highlights how BC’s inadequate minimum wage affects thousands of families, and is making an urgent call to increase it.
Child poverty facts:
1 in 5 children in British Columbia are living in poverty-that’s 153,300 children, almost the same size as the entire population of Nanaimo Regional District. First Call BC’s 2017 Child Poverty Report Card offers a detailed overview of the situation we live in our province, and makes an urgent call to action.
Food insecurity facts:
Food banks were established in Canada 40 years ago as an emergency measure to deal with food shortages. They are necessary to address the immediate needs of people living with hunger and malnutrition. However, these services can only provide short-term relief for the downstream symptoms of poverty and we need long-term solutions that go upstream to fix its root causes. Every year, Food Banks Canada’s Hunger Count Report offers a clear picture of the dire need for meaningful action, and offer substance to the call for establishing a comprehensive plan that eradicates poverty once and for all.
Queer and trans people face a high level of poverty and marginalization, yet these communities have previously not been included in initiatives trying to address poverty. Family rejection, homelessness and discrimination pose critical barriers for queer and trans people to enjoy full, healthy lives in BC. The Poverty is a LGBTQ issue project details the situation in British Columbia, and offers suggestions of how this can be solved.
- Poverty Myth #2: “Welfare’s there when you need it.”
- A Poverty Reduction Plan for BC fact sheet and poster