Welfare system traps people in poverty

Former social assistance intake worker tells of experiences

Re: The aggression of welfare (News, June 19)

I appreciate Danielle Pope’s article on the injustices disability welfare recipients endure. Formerly a hospital social worker, I often helped welfare patients. The link between poverty and health was clear: the poorer the patient the worse the health. I heard many stories of harsh welfare workers.

Decades ago I worked as an intake worker. Intake workers are overwhelmed, hemmed in by restrictive regulations that permit exhausted workers to punish desperately frustrated welfare recipients who express outrage at the demeaning treatment that characterizes B.C.’s welfare program.

Welfare presumes people don’t really deserve help. It shames and blames recipients, presumed fit for work and the cause of their own unemployment. There’s little understanding of damage caused by chronic illness, mental health challenges, job injuries, childhood abuse, poor education and addictions.

People with poor coping skills, limited family support and serious health issues must survive on $610 per month. If they get disability status (the request is often initially refused), income increases to $906 per month. I challenge welfare supervisors to live on $906. Inexorably, the stress of inadequate welfare leads to further addiction, criminal behaviour and (punishable) outrage at the welfare system’s injustice.

We need a guaranteed annual income matching Canada’s poverty line: $18,400 in 2009, after taxes. That’s $7,500 more than what B.C. disability recipients get. We trap people in poverty, with insufficient funds to address health problems, safe housing or educational needs. This costs every Canadian taxpayer $2,100 per year in additional health and social services for those kept in poverty.

By providing an annual income (taxed away if earning more than the poverty line), we can provide educational opportunity, better health and secure housing while reducing social costs when these needs are not met.

Let’s end the shame of keeping people imprisoned in poverty. It’s cheaper to do the right thing.

Hendrik de Pagter



Just Posted

Canada names 24 athletes to compete for 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup

The event takes place at Langford’s Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa on Feb. 29

MISSING: 64-year-old Victoria man David Atkins

Atkins was last seen downtown on Dec. 2 and now could be in Sooke

Search for space continues as North Saanich child care program closes

Beacon Community Service says it is a challenge to find suitable facilities

Full buses leave Colwood woman fuming over commute from West Shore

BC Transit plans to add eight double-deckers in 2020, will rotate on 50 and 61 routes

Our Place Society asks for men’s clothing donations

Victoria non-profit short on men’s clothes, has 80 per cent male clientele

Fashion Fridays: Ethical and sustainable gifts for the season

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 3

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Most Read