Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Clark's pension costs taxpayers $76k a year, but disability rate increase not 'affordable'

Premier Christy Clark scores top marks for hypocrisy in explaining why British Columbians on disability benefits, and their children, should live in poverty.
Clark said this week that she knows the benefits, frozen since 2007, are too low. But British Columbia is just too poor to provide any increase. That will have to wait for some unknown future when it is “affordable,” she said.
But Clark believes it’s perfectly affordable to have taxpayers contribute $76,000 a year to fund her pension.
A single parent with one child on disability benefits in British Columbia - someone like Clark - receives $1,272 a month. That’s up to $570 for rent and $672 for everything else. They are expected to raise a child on $15,000 a year. 
Increasing disability assistance rates after seven frozen years is impossible, Clark says. Not “affordable.”
But MLAs believe that they need up to $1,580 a month for a temporary second home in Victoria to use when the legislature is sitting. That’s affordable.
They believe a pension plan that requires four dollars from taxpayers for every dollar paid by MLAs is affordable. The taxpayer contribution to fund the plan works out to an average $48,000 a year for each of the 85 MLAs.
The claim that British Columbia can’t afford to raise income assistance and disability assistance rates is simply false. 
The reality is that government has chosen to leave some 33,000 children and their families in poverty. People on assistance benefits are forced into substandard, sometimes dangerous housing, and denied the ability to afford the basics of life. 
It’s destructive for everyone. A single person is supposed to find housing that costs less than $375 and live on $122 a week. That is a grim existence for anyone, even people who are on income assistance for short periods. 
For people with few job options - those on disability assistance and with “persistent multiple barriers to employment” - it’s especially dire. They represent about two-thirds of recipients.
And government-mandated poverty is especially devastating for children. It does lasting damage to their health, educational achievements and social adjustment, and damages their prospects in life. Raising the rates now will save money for taxpayers in future, improve their lives and build a stronger province.
Clark needs to be honest. The rates haven’t been increased since 2007 because government has decided the needs of those people aren’t as important as its other priorities.
Including pay raises, pensions and benefits for MLAs.


Anonymous said...

I took a quick look at our CBC website and in particular the story about a Food Bank opening up in Surrey for school teachers. Reading some of the comments made me realize the Liberal government has managed to convince quite a few readers that teachers are greedy and the worst type of individuals. So many comments with such stupid remarks about teachers who are "finally getting pay back ".
And the ones that try to justify their comments about wages or compensation provide links to the BC Liberal government website & it's data.
What is wrong with people ? Are these the same people that re-elected one of the most corrupt government's in BC history ?
The Millions & millions this government spend on PR seems to be working, especially on those who lack the ability to research & look at both sides.

Guy in Victoria

Jake's Place said...

As a person living with HIV for over 30 years and the poverty that resulted from having to go on disability, I have seen many people whose quality of life was gutted and as a result they were killed not by HIV but by the sub -poverty inflicted upon them. This government is not Liberal. They are ultra right wing conservative socreds with only one primary interest. Themselves. Liberal policies, practices and procedures kill. And dead and dying people don't have the time nor the energy to fight. Hence the Liberal government believes that death is the solution to poverty.

RossK said...


Let's say we means-tested private schools to identify those institutions that really need our public subsidy.

And let's say such testing allowed us to cut the total subsidy by half, down to $150 million from $300 million per year.

Would that $150 million be enough to do what you suggest Paul?

paul said...

Ross K:
Tough to be precise, but $150 million should allow an increase in assistance rates of about 15 per cent for families with children, or 10 per cent for everybody. The means test for private schools is a very good approach.

RossK said...

Thanks Paul--

Still working out the details, but I'm thinking the test should be for individual families but that the subsidy should still go directly to the school...

That way I think there might be some incentive to pull in kids from less affluent families.

Heckfire, if things worked from a budgetary point of view I would even suggest that the subsidy be RAISED for kids from low income families.


paul said...

Interesting. I was thinking simpler. If public grant less than one-third of school budget, it loses half the grant. If it's less than 20 per cent, it loses it all. Or something like that.
A student-based formula would be an interesting option.