Roughly a dozen people, mostly with disabilities, gathered outside a Burnaby welfare office Wednesday, demanding the government increase their monthly benefit payments.
"We're fed up being treated like a bunch of beggars. We're angry and we're not going to be silent any longer," said New Westminster resident Tom Page, spokesperson for ACORN, a social justice organization. ACORN's disability rights group was holding the demonstration on Wednesday morning.
According to Page, people receiving disability benefits from the government live in "abject extreme poverty" receiving only $906 a month (which translates to $10,872 annually), while Albertans receive $1,588.
"B.C. has one of the highest costs of living in Canada, but the disability rates have fallen to sixth place," Page told the crowd through a megaphone while standing on the corner of Kingsway and McKay Avenue near Metrotown.
Page also bemoaned the difficulties and wait-times to get on disability and the fact that benefits are not retroactive to the date of application.
ACORN wants the disability benefit rates to be raised to $1,200 immediately, followed by a study to come up with a livable rate that's indexed for inflation. According to Page, who's on disability, the government hasn't increased the rates since 2007.
"They have money to increase their own salaries," he said.
The group plans to target one welfare office a month, in an attempt to put pressure on government to meet their demands. No one from the Social Development Ministry was available for immediate comments, but the NOW is expecting a response soon. Please check this website for updates.