British Columbia’s welfare benefits are so low they keep recipients mired in perpetual poverty, according to a study released yesterday.
The Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives conducted Living On Welfare In B.C. – Experiences Of Longer-Term “Expected To Work” Recipients with Simon Fraser University.
Sixty-two welfare recipients from Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna designated as “expected to work” (employable) were followed for two years.
At the start of the study in 2004, a person in their classification received $510 per month, an amount so low that 77 per cent of participants reported having to go to food banks or soup kitchens.
Seth Klein, who co-authored the study, said participants had to spend the bulk of their day trying to obtain the most basic needs, making the search for work difficult or impossible.
“This study shows why some people on the system feel compelled to resort to panhandling or illegal activity, and why some women return to abusive relationships,” he said.
Richard Chambers, with the Ministry Of Employment And Income Assistance, called the study out of date. He said there has been a “phenomenal change in the way income assistance is delivered” since the study.
“We would almost say that the system that existed back in 2004 doesn’t exist anymore,” he said. “We have an extensive community outreach program (and) are ensuring that people are receiving the right categories of income assistance.”

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