For immediate release, January 5, 2021

As 2021 begins, the recently re-elected NDP government of British Columbia has slashed the province’s monthly $300 Covid assistance benefits in half. Just before Christmas, the news was released that starting in January, income assistance and disability recipients will receive just $150 per month, and the subsidy will be completely eliminated after March.  While the government is making vague promises to increase assistance rates in its next budget, the news came as a shock to hundreds of thousands of British Columbians who are struggling to survive during the ongoing pandemic. Shamefully, the NDP is also claiming that its COVID-19
BC Recovery Benefit payment (up to $1,000 for families or $500 for single people) will compensate for the $300 rate cut, but the reality is that people in poverty need stable, livable incomes to survive, not one-time election gimmicks.

The Communist Party of BC condemns the rate cut as an attack on the poorest and most vulnerable residents of the province. We give our full support to the demands being raised by a wide range of organizations, such as the “300 to Live” campaign, which is calling to maintain the $300/month increase to income and disability assistance rates, to permanently raise income assistance rates further to at least the poverty line, indexed to inflation, and to ensure that increases to income assistance and disability assistance include a clear, earmarked increase to the shelter portion.

The CPBC has demanded for many years to raise income assistance and disability rates to at least $2000 per month, and to reverse the massive tax gifts to the corporate sector and upper income earners given by the Campbell Liberals nearly two decades ago. That giveaway, estimated at $3 billion annually, has been left almost untouched by the NDP since Premier Horgan came to power in 2017. The First Call BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition reported in December that in 2018, the first full year of the Horgan government, one in five children in BC were living in poverty, and that 159,570 children and youth were living in poor households, down only slightly from 2017 (163,730). These and other statistics show that despite some minimum wage hikes and the NDP’s initial increase in assistance rates, the gap between rich and poor in British Columbia remains as wide as ever.

“Voters sent a message in the recent provincial election that British Columbians do not want a return to the Liberal record of constant attacks against working class and poor people,” says CPBC leader Kimball Cariou.  “The callous cuts to the Covid benefits show that this government is already failing to live up to its promises.  We give our full support to the demands by many people’s organizations to keep and expand these benefits, and to use the upcoming provincial budget to adopt real measures to tackle poverty in British Columbia, including to raise assistance rates to at least $2000/month, and to embark on a massive low-income housing

For further information, contact the Communist Party of BC at cpinfo.bc@gmail.com or 604-254-9836, or visit
the party’s website: http://cpcbc.ca/?p=766