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Monthly Archives : December 2012

Kyle

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Name: Kyle Beauliev

Occupation: Preschool Teacher

Kyle teaches pre-school in Vancouver, where she lives with her partner and two children. She emigrated from Australia in 1993 after completing a Bachelor’s of Education that qualified her to teach high school. While working as a nanny in Vancouver, Kyle realized her passion for teaching young children and returned to school to obtain a diploma in Early Childhood Education. However, her wage upon graduation wasn’t enough to pay off the debt from her student loans and the year she spent not working.  She remains optimistic and values her family and community.

We support the $10 a day child care plan to provide affordable child care that fairly compensates its workforce. Early Childhood Educators do not earn wages and benefits that reflect the importance or challenge of the work they do. Many licensed ECE’s live in poverty, yet they are vital to the health and wellbeing of children, families and communities.

“Did I make a mistake?  Should I have gone where my heart and my values and what I desired and felt was more comfortable for me to do, or should I have gone with the possibility of making more money [as a high school teacher], maybe having more stuff…I would rather do the job that I love, do the job that I do well.”

Lisa

Uncategorized

Name: Lisa Poole

Occupation: Student/Teaching Assistant

Lisa is doing a PhD in Sociology. She also works as a Teaching Assistant and has a second job at the Student Learning Commons at SFU, but her work is precarious contract work. She is fortunate to have bought a condo years ago but she can’t afford to live in it now so she rents it out. She also had to sell her car because she couldn’t afford it any more. She now lives with 3 roommates, which makes rent cheaper, but with the cost of food, bills, cell-phone and tuition fees, she often can’t live within her means and goes into debt in order to survive.

We support reducing tuition fees. Average student debt in BC is nearly $27,000 and the student loan interest rate is prime plus 2.5 percent, the highest in Canada. Debt is a significant issue in BC, and we have the highest debt service burden (interest payments) for households in Canada.

“I think debt is a significant issue that often gets overlooked.  We live in a debt society/economy – our economy relies on it since people are not paid a high enough wage to live, particularly welfare and minimum wage… My personal debt is extraordinary and I pay a significant amount of interest per month.”

Karen

Uncategorized

Name: Karen Brack

Occupation: Tour Guide

Karen Brack moved to BC, from Oshawa, Ontario in 2000 to be closer to her grandchildren. While looking for work in BC, she was dual diagnosed with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, and had to go on welfare while she waited for her application for CCP disability to be accepted. After some time Karen found work at a job that paid living wage that had the limited hours she needed to cope with her medical condition. Karen loves her work but this year, due to cutbacks at her workplace, she has seen her hours cut to 12 per month. The added pressures of the job have led her to decide to retire at the age of 60 and lose the added income that the job provided her.

We support raising disability rates. An income of $906 per month ($10,782 annually) is significantly below the poverty line. As housing costs continue to rise without a corresponding increase in disability benefits, those living on disability are forced to make difficult choices to make ends meet.

“The money I earn at my job has gotten me to be able to buy the little things like fresh fruit and veggies, not having to always look for the discounted priced veggies and meat.  When you don’t have the money, those little things like fresh food all of a sudden become big things.”

Jonah

Uncategorized

Name: Jonah Thomas

Occupation: Community Volunteer

Jonah lives in Victoria. He is involved with a group called AIDS Vancouver Island, who work to prevent infection, provide support, and reduce stigma. When he was younger, he wanted to become a doctor, but he struggled to muster the confidence to get into university. Due to an accident on the job and his challenges with addiction and recovery, Jonah is now on disability. He also does odd jobs when he can. Jonah struggles daily with access to proper nutrition and safe housing.

We support raising disability rates and providing more social housing. An income of $906 per month ($10,782 annually) is far below the poverty line, and housing costs are a significant challenge. People on disability have the right to live with dignity, without having to resort to charities.

“I believe there needs to be courage in the city and the province. We are still human beings even if we are struggling and we need to be heard. The poor need to feel like we’re being listened to.”

Gerald

portfolio

Name: Gerald Smith

Occupation: Temp Agency Worker/Community Volunteer

Gerald lives in Victoria. He is involved with a group called AIDS Vancouver Island, who work to prevent infection, provide support, and reduce stigma. When he was growing up, he wanted to become a social worker and help young people. Now he works hard to get by on disability and part-time wages, but it’s a constant struggle. He had a very difficult time finding housing and is embarrassed about the condition of his home. He feels that he can’t have his grandson over to visit.

We support raising the disability rates and building more social housing. An income of $906 per month ($10,782 annually) is far below the poverty line, and housing costs are a significant challenge. There is a severe shortage of publicly subsidized housing in BC, and many people have to wait years before they are able to live in an affordable rental unit.

“I looked at 12 places. As soon as I mentioned I was on welfare I got shunned. I work part time with a temp agency, [so now] I act as if I work for my disability check and just pay cash.”

Brenda

Uncategorized

Name: Brenda Bingham

Occupation: Retired Psychiatric Nurse

Brenda lives in Victoria. She is involved with a group called AIDS Vancouver Island, who work to prevent infection, provide support, and reduce stigma. Brenda is a retired psychiatric nurse and also has a disability. She now gets by solely on disability benefits. She feels very fortunate to have made it in to social housing, which makes her housing costs much more affordable, but she wants that opportunity for everyone. She feels the government needs to focus on becoming more aware of the needs and trials of those working hard but struggling to get by.

We support raising the disability rates and building more social housing. An income of $906 per month ($10,782 annually) is far below the poverty line, and housing costs are a significant challenge. There is a severe shortage of publicly subsidized housing in BC, and many people have to wait years before they are able to live in an affordable rental unit.

“We need the government to recognize us. They need to walk in our shoes. It’s not simple ignorance. It’s willful.”

Malcolm

Uncategorized

Name: Malcolm Sword

Occupation: Community Volunteer

Malcom is currently living in a shelter in Victoria. He is involved with AIDS Vancouver Island, who work to prevent infection, provide support, and reduce stigma. He tries to get by on welfare, and volunteers weekly with the Coalition to End Homelessness. He feels frustrated with the amount of time he loses each day lining up to receive basic services. He sometimes spends over 6 hours just getting food. He also sees steep barriers to accessing safe, clean housing.

We support raising welfare rates, indexing them to inflation, and providing more social housing. Welfare rates are completely inadequate and have not been increased since 2007, while the cost of living has risen substantially in that time. People living in poverty are more likely to have health issues, and the health care costs of poverty are $1.2 billion per year.

“Finding clean, decent accommodation is impossible. The time spent to survive, look for work, and plan for the future…  It’s nearly impossible to get stability in my life.”

Glen

Uncategorized

Name: Glen Tocher

Occupation: Community Volunteer

Glen lives in Victoria. He is involved with AIDS Vancouver Island, who work to prevent infection, provide support, and reduce stigma. He tries to get by on welfare but, after paying rent and other expenses, he has almost nothing left over. He spends a lot of his time lining up for soup kitchens, food banks, and other basic needs.  He finds this experience degrading.

We support raising welfare rates. At $610 per month, it is completely inadequate and has been frozen since 2007. The cost of food has increased by almost 25% over the last 10 years, and the average household needs about $1400 per month to meet the cost of basic necessities.

“Absolutely I spend time lining up. It makes me feel crappy.”

Daniel

Uncategorized

Name: Daniel Wolf Höhener

Occupation: Artist

Daniel lives in Victoria. He is involved with AIDS Vancouver Island, who work to prevent infection, provide support, and reduce stigma. He tries to get by on disability, and also sells his art work. He lived on the streets for many years on the basic welfare rate. He feels fortunate to have recently moved into subsidized housing, and wishes the government would expand programs like these.

We support raising disability rates and providing more social housing. An income of $906 per month ($10,782 annually) is significantly below the poverty line. As housing costs continue to rise without a corresponding increase in disability benefits, those living on disability are forced to make difficult choices to make ends meet. People on disability have the right to live with dignity, without having to resort to charities.

“I just recently moved into subsidized housing. There’s not enough of these buildings now. [BC needs] more low-income housing.”

Eugene

Uncategorized

Name: Eugene Sauter

Occupation: Community Volunteer

Eugene lives in Victoria. He is involved with a group called AIDS Vancouver Island, who work to prevent infection, provide support, and reduce stigma. He has 8 children with a previous partner. He tries to get by on disability, and feels fortunate to have access to safe, affordable housing. However, he has very little left over each month. Eugene also volunteers weekly with “Rig Dig”, a service for substance users that aims to provide harm reduction by cleaning up the streets and offering safe injection supplies.

We support raising disability rates and providing more social housing. An income of $906 per month ($10, 872 annually) is significantly below the poverty line. As the cost of living continues to rise without a corresponding increase in disability benefits, those living on disability are forced to make difficult choices to make ends meet.

“After paying rent, I only have $500 left over for all other monthly expenses.”