Today marks 10 years since welfare rates were raised in B.C.
Province says receiving welfare is only meant to be a temporary measure
Left-leaning think tanks in B.C. are marking the 10-year anniversary of when welfare rates were last raised in the province.
Seth Klein with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says there's a certain irony to the anniversary falling on April Fool's Day.
"It's certainly a cruel joke," Klein said.
Welfare rates in B.C. have been frozen since April 1, 2007.
"Right now if you are a single person you're getting $610 a month, 375 of which is for shelter, leaving you $8 a day for everything else," Klein said.
"But you can't find shelter at $375 a month so you've got even less, which is why you cant live and survive on a welfare income."
The province has acknowledged that living on welfare is difficult.
Shortly after the last provincial budget was announced this spring, Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell told CBC people receiving income assistance also get free MSP, pharmacare and emergency dental assistance, as well as tax credits.
She also emphasized that receiving welfare is only meant to be temporary.
But Klein says recent data shows more than 27,000 people were on assistance for more than a year and almost 19,000 were on it for more than two years.
"I was stunned that there wasn't some increase in February's budget, I hope this becomes an election issue," he said.
Klein believes current welfare rates have created a social assistance system that leaves recipients dependent on food banks and other charities to meet their basic needs.
With files from Deborah Goble