Surrey MLA accepts challenge to live on welfare for one month

Jagrup Brar

Jagrup Brar, MLA Surrey Fleetwood, has accepted the MLA Welfare Challenge to live on the welfare rate of $610 for a month. He will start on January 1, 2012, spending part of the month in Surrey and part in Vancouver.

“We’re delighted that Jagrup has agreed to live on $610 for the month of January,” said Jean Swanson of Raise the Rates, a BC coalition that wants governments to reduce and end poverty.

“We are confident that his experience will help the public understand that welfare rates are too low to live on and that politicians will act to tackle poverty.”

Last May, Raise the Rates challenged all BC MLAs and both leaders to live on the welfare rate for a single person who is expected to look for work. Since then, Raise the Rates has been searching for an MLA to take up the challenge, and working with Brar to arrange the practicalities of taking the Challenge. Raise the Rates acknowledges and appreciates Jagrup Brar’s commitment in agreeing to live for a month on $610.

Jagrup Brar will directly experience living for a month on $610 for everything, the impossibility of making ends meet, and the many other difficulties of life on welfare. Raise the Rates and a number of Surrey partners will work together to provide support and advice. They will organize meetings to ensure that Brar has a valuable and insightful experience, learning first-hand about poverty, inequality and ‘being on welfare’.

However, both Raise the Rates and Jagrup Brar are well aware that living on $610 for only one month will not provide the same experience as a person who actually lives on welfare. He will start the Challenge in good health and with adequate clothes; and his life on welfare will end after a month.

One of the themes of the MLA Welfare Challenge is ‘Justice not Charity’.