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Disability rate increase urged

People on disability pensions are struggling to make ends meet, and that has Vernon politicians demanding action.

City council will write Premier Christy Clark and demand that disability benefit rates be reviewed.

“People are living below the poverty line,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

According to the Disability Without Poverty Network, a single-person receives a disability benefit of $906 a month, almost $500 below what is needed to cover basic essentials.

“Since 2001, the Persons with Disabilities (benefit) rate has increased by only $120 per month, while the cost of basic essentials, such as food, clothing, transportation, health, personal care and shelter, have increased by 17.2 per cent,” states the network.

“During this period, the cost of food alone increased by nearly 25 per cent.”

Cunningham would like to see the benefit increased to $1,200 a month but points out that would just bring an individual up to the poverty line.

Presently, a disabled person can earn up to $800 without impacting their benefit but Cunningham says that provides little assistance.

“The fact is many can’t work to earn that kind of money,” she said.

Coun. Bob Spiers also wants changes in funding levels.

“An increase to approach a more adequate disabilities pension garners my concern and support,” he said.

“Let’s hope the provincial government considers this important item that affects more than 98,000 people in the disabilities designation.”

Cunningham believes it’s positive for the entire community if assistance for the disabled is improved.

“There are people forgoing eating because of the high cost of rent. The cost to the health care system can be mitigated if the benefit is increased,” she said.

 

Vernon council decided to contact Clark after Cranbrook took similar action.

 

 

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