Poverty Mythbusters: Myth #2

to disprove beliefs about poverty, that simply aren’t true.

Myth #2: Welfare’s there when you need it



Think you’re covered when you get sick? Think again! In recent years, BC’s welfare ministry has radically changed the way it delivers services.

Real Stories

Noel Oullette lives in New Westminster. He was in a car accident 25 years ago that resulted in a back injury that makes it difficult to work. He has worked various jobs over the years and held a part-time job last year, but his welfare cheque was reduced dollar for dollar on his earnings. After rent, he is left with $145 a month for food and bills. He goes to the food bank and lines up for 2-3 hours a week for food that only lasts about 2-3 days. He has applied to get on disability, but the process is taking a very long time.


Karen Brack moved to BC, from Oshawa, Ontario in 2000 to be closer to her grandchildren. While looking for work in BC, she was dual diagnosed with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, and had to go on welfare while she waited for her application for CCP disability to be accepted. After some time Karen found work at a job that paid living wage that had the limited hours she needed to cope with her medical condition. Karen loves her work but this year, due to cutbacks at her workplace, she has seen her hours cut to 12 per month. The added pressures of the job have led her to decide to retire at the age of 60 and lose the added income that the job provided her.

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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!

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.

More Stories

Vera Tonte was born and raised in Richmond. As a young girl, she became passionate about dancing. She made her way to New York City, performing in the ballet and modern dance scenes. However, the pressure led her to an increased reliance on substance abuse, which eventually brought her back to Vancouver. After couch-surfing for 5 years, she entered a recovery program and lived in a recovery house. With the help of an advocate, she was successful in accessing disability benefits. “I was told right off the bat that it was going to be really difficult to get on to disability,” she says. “A lot of the women in the [recovery] house have had to reapply multiple times.”

Rick Erb grew up in Richmond, Port Coquitlam, and Agassiz, and currently lives in Burnaby. He had a good life growing up. He became a teacher on call in his 30s in Surrey and Coquitlam. Eventually he got a night school position in Surrey teaching ESL. He had a stroke in 2005. After the stroke, his life changed a great deal and he had to stop working. He finds groceries expensive, but generally can afford food and rent. He continues to volunteer in his community, and is looking for more ways to get back to work.

Dora Lee moved to Vancouver three years ago from China. At the time, she was pregnant and hoped for a better life for her child. Unfortunately, her husband didn’t receive his visa for another two years so she took care of her newborn son by herself. After her husband arrived, they both had trouble finding meaningful work. They cannot afford child care so he works during the day and she works at night stuffing flyers. She earns only $16,000 a year, and his part-time security job barely pays for their heating costs during the winter.



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