Noon rally planned for Thursday in Maple Ridge

A rally is planned to protest disability bus pass clawbacks by the province. - TIMES files
A rally is planned to protest disability bus pass clawbacks by the province.
— image credit: TIMES files

A rally in Maple Ridge tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 1) will be one of many held across B.C. to express the anger of people struggling to live on provincial disability benefits and who are now facing the clawback of their bus pass.

The local rally takes place in Maple Ridge at the MSDI Office, 22522 Lougheed Hwy, from noon to 1 p.m.

"The goal is to keep the pressure on Minister Stilwell and the government to consider increasing PWD rates," said local rally spokeperson Bob Goos. "My understanding if there are some consultations planned to deal with that issue."

On the We The People Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Facebook page, the group says the rally is "for the people of Maple Ridge to come out with their signs/placards/banners and their voices to tell Christy Clark to stop picking on the disabled and the poor."

September 1, marks the day that the government will implement the changes announced in the last provincial budget, an increase of $77 and the change to the annual bus pass program of $45 per year and the termination of the Special Transportation Subsidy.

“With this change, the government is giving with one hand and taking with the other,” says Kelly Newhook, Executive Director of Together Against Poverty Society in Victoria. "Taking away people’s lifeline to their community will have such a negative impact – they will not be able to get around to shop for basic necessities, go to the doctor, go to school, have a social life...all the things we generally take for granted. People on disability and income assistance deserve a real raise in the rates.”

It has been almost a decade since the government has increased income assistance and disability rates,  according to a Provincial Day of Action press release.

In B.C,  more than 140,000 people struggle to live on rates of $906 for PWD and $610 for basic income assistance while living in one of the most expensive places in Canada, the release said.

"Now those living on Persons With Disabilities (PWD) rates are faced with the false ‘choice’ of keeping the $77 to cover basic necessities or paying $52 a month to buy a bus pass, making the actual increase to the rates only $25. For those who received an annual Special Transportation Subsidy as they could not use public transit, their increase is merely $11 a month," it added.


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