Thursday, 20 July 2017

NDP-Green Coalition Raises Welfare & Disability Rates

I'm usually fairly snarky when it comes to politics. It's how I deal with the dread. And I was going to be snarky about this, but I believe this deserves a more direct reaction.

A few months ago, BC held its local elections. A big aspect of it was getting rid of the Liberal party and, more specifically, Christy Clark. It reminded me greatly of the "Heave Steve" sentiment during the federal election that ultimately convinced me not to vote. I did vote in this local election, however, and I voted for the Green Party as their platform best represented my interests and I felt they also had a better image for the future of BC in sustainability.

While my district did not go Green, it did see an increase of nearly 20%. Several other districts -did- go Green. Together with the NDP, they combined for enough seats to deny the Liberals a majority. 

What's more is that they denied the Liberals government entirely. An NDP-Green coalition was officially sworn in this week to lead BC with the two parties promising to collaborate on legislature that would undo a lot of the harmful policies set forth by the Liberals or to fix the complete inaction the Liberals have been responsible for. 

The first thing Premier Horgan did was increase funding for the wildfire crisis. Good. An easy win. 

What this coalition did next, however, makes me feel even better about the results of the election. From my perspective, an NDP-Green coalition was the "best case scenario" in the realm of realism. An actual Green win would have been a fairy tale and not worth hoping for. I got my wish for the coalition but did not know whether or not that hope would be validated. 

That hope, thus far, has been validated. The Liberals of yore prided themselves on freezing social welfare benefits across the board for over a decade despite inflation, despite cost of living increases, and despite Vancouver's newfound reputation as the 3rd most expensive city to live in on this planet. That is, to say the least, not great

Today, the NDP announced immediate raises to both welfare and disability rates that will go into effect in September. It's not a large increase, only $100, but it's a first step in a process that will hopefully not be as soul-crushing for those reliant on the state for survival. They also plan on raising the earning exemption from $200 to $400 and to tie the disability rate to inflation. There are talks in place to raise these rates further in the future as current reports suggest that a monthly stipend of $1500/mo would be necessary for people to not be crushingly oppressed by poverty in the Greater Vancouver Area. 

And to assuage worries that the NDP would not play ball with the Greens, they will also look into funding a study for basic universal income and seeing if that may be a viable option for British Columbia in the future. 

I am excited to see what this coalition does next. 

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