Cowichan Valley’s W. Jeff Leggat is an organizer of the Community Rally to Raise the Rates for Persons living with Permanent Disabilities in B.C. that will take place on the grounds of the legislature building in Victoria on March 18. (Submitted photo)

Cowichan Valley’s W. Jeff Leggat is an organizer of the Community Rally to Raise the Rates for Persons living with Permanent Disabilities in B.C. that will take place on the grounds of the legislature building in Victoria on March 18. (Submitted photo)

Islanders rally in Victoria to urge disability pay raise up to the poverty level

Payments currently below poverty level

The Cowichan Valley’s W. Jeff Leggat wants to see the financial support for people living with permanent disabilities in B.C. increased.

Leggat, who has a permanent disability, said people living with designated permanent disabilities in the province currently receive just $1,183 a month in governmental support, while the poverty level in Canada is considered $1,800 a month.

He said those with permanent disabilities, who make up 4.8 per cent of the population, and are receiving financial support were allowed to make up to$1,000 a month more on top of their payments, but the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year and its impact on the economy have left many with little or no opportunities to increase their pay.

RELATED STORY: CANADA HOME TO 6.5 MILLION PEOPLE WITH ONE OR MORE DISABILITIES

“Last year, [B.C. Premier John] Horgan announced a $300 a month top up for those designated with permanent disabilities during the pandemic, but that lasted nine months before the payments were cut back to $150 a month and they will end in April,” Leggat said.

“Then we’ll be back to 2019 levels. The financial support for people living with permanent disabilities in B.C. hasn’t been increased since 2010.”

Leggat is an organizer of a grass-roots effort to hold an event, called the Community Rally to Raise the Rates for Persons living with Permanent Disabilities in B.C., on the grounds of the legislature building in Victoria on March 18 to demand that those with permanent disabilities receive financial support to at least reach the poverty level of $1,800 a month.

He said he had hoped to have a large crowd show up for the rally, but the health protocols around the COVID-19 pandemic mean the event will have to be mainly online.

RELATED STORY: CANADIANS WITH DISABILITIES DISPROPORTIONATELY HIT BY COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Leggat said all disability groups, organizations and resource centres in the province have been invited to participate in the rally, and leaders of all provincial political parties have been asked to speak at the event.

“Sonia Furstenau [the Cowichan Valley’s MLA and leader of the province’s Green Party] will speak at the rally, and an elder from the Songhees First Nation will say a prayer, as well as Minister Keith Simmonds, from the Duncan United Church,” he said.

“We are only allowed to have 25 people attend the rally at the Legislature, and they will be invited. We ask everyone else to join us on Facebook by going to Community Rally to Raise the Rates for Persons living with Permanent Disabilities in B.C. on March 18, between noon and 4 p.m.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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