At just 23 years old, a Vernon woman who was born with a disability can’t understand how she is supposed to live off just $8 a month.
That’s what Tasha Chance is left with out of her disability cheque after she pays her rent, power and phone bill.
“I pay most of it towards bills and it doesn’t leave me with much,” said Chance, a bright young woman who was born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and has ADHD and bi-polar.
It’s not even enough to buy a few staples at the grocery store. Particularly during the long stretches when she’s not eligible for food bank support.
“You can only get a food hamper every two or three months and it doesn’t have much in it, enough for two or three weeks,” said Chance.
It’s during those tough periods that she frequents the Upper Room Mission for meals.
So in an effort to make a change, Chance has started a petition to get the disability benefit increased from the current $906 to $1,200.
“My goal is to see an increase in PWD (persons with disabilities assistance),” she said, adding that anyone can make a petition or sign one.
Those interested in joining her efforts can do so at www.change.org.
“The majority of people have kids or are elders or are like me who need this,” said Chance. “I know a lot of people who would benefit from this.”
She admits, that there are those who abuse the system, but she says that an increase would allow many to get out of some bad situations.
“It’s a stepping stone, then they could actually afford to rent a nice place.
“That’s huge on the way to recovery.”
Recently, the provincial budget included a small increase for people with disabilities but there was a catch. The $77 per month increase was tied to the cost of a person’s transportation.
Inclusion BC is petitioning to bring back the $45 per year bus pass for people with disabilities, eliminate the new $52/month bus pass fee, keep the $77 increase and raise the PWD benefit to $1,200 per month by Oct. 1, 2016.
“Having increased by only $120 since 2001, B.C. disability benefit rates of $906/month are among the lowest in the country; yet we live in one of the most expensive provinces,” states Inclusion BC on its petition.
“People with disabilities struggle with impossible pressures, including whether to get a bit of extra money to buy food or take the bus. We are falling behind and desperately need a rate increase that reflects the cost of living in B.C.”