The B.C. branch of ACORN Canada is lobbying the provincial government to increase assistance rates for single parents with disabilities, and to end the "dollar-for-dollar clawback" on child support payments.
About 30 protesters, including ACORN members and people on disability, gathered at the King George SkyTrain station Thursday to rally outside a nearby social assistance office.
The group wants the B.C. Liberals to increase the monthly assistance rate for single parents from $906 to $1,206.
"The disability rate is not enough to live on," said Tom Page, acting chair of the B.C. ACORN Disability Rights Group and a board member of the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition.
"Based on the rates, they're living way below the poverty line, and so their children are living way below the poverty line.
"We are here to ask the B.C. government to review its practices. They have repeatedly told us there's not enough money to raise the disability rate. The last time it was raised was in 2007, and that was a mere $50."
Rachel Goodine, an ACORN spokesperson who is also on disability and is a single parent, said the current rates keep children of disabled parents living about 50 per cent below the poverty line. She added that she has to claim her ex's child support payments to the disability office - about $700 per month - which gets deducted from her monthly assistance.
"It's really hard to get by on the rates, so I often go without nutrition so (my daughter) can have what she needs."
Goodine noted that many women with children, herself included, have stayed in unhealthy relationships to avoid living in poverty, and that they'd have a fighting chance at getting out of poverty if their child support didn't subsidize their disability payments.
While the assistance rate for disabled parents has increased by only $120 over the last decade, Goodine said she is hopeful that the Liberal government will be able to achieve a $300 increase for the nearly 100,000 disabled citizens receiving support.
"We met with Moira Stilwell when she was in charge of social development and she said there was no money in the budget," she said. "We're still going to try, we're not going to give up."
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