Name: Vera Tonte

Occupation: Youth Job Training Participant

Vera was born and raised in Richmond. As a young girl, she became passionate about dancing. She made her way to New York City, performing in the ballet and modern dance scenes. However, the pressure led her to an increased reliance on substance abuse, which eventually brought her back to Vancouver. After couch-surfing for 5 years, she entered a recovery program and now lives in a recovery house. With the help of an advocate, she was recently successful in accessing disability benefits, and is in the process of moving out.

We support raising welfare and disability rates, and making them accessible to those in need. The application system for disability assistance is now so complicated that many people need help from an advocate to successfully navigate the process. However, funding for advocates has been cut.

“I was told right off the bat that it was going to be really difficult to get on to disability.  A lot of the women in the [recovery] house have had to reapply multiple times.”