Ever wonder what its like to eat on a welfare budget? VCH’s Executive Director of Population, Ted Bruce, is trying to get a small glimpse of what it’s like by accepting a challenge to live on a food budget of $26 for one week. Between October 16 and October 23, Raise the Rates, a provincial welfare advocacy organization, is challenging people in BC to learn about the reality of living on welfare. It is timed to coincide with World Poverty Day on October 17.
“As health care providers we all know the evidence that people living in poor socioeconomic conditions have poorer health status than others and that there is a clear gradient in health. As we move down the income ladder people experience higher rates of chronic diseases and of course increased use of our health care system,” saysTed.
A study by medical health officers has shown that people who live in deprived conditions in Canadian cities are hospitalized at much higher rates. For example, hospitalizations for diabetes are 2.4 times higher. This is one of the reasons VCH has adopted the reduction of health inequities as a strategic priority.
VCH’s public health staff partner with many governmental and non-governmental organizations to encourage policies that address the social determinants of health such as food insecurity and poor housing conditions. Those participating in the Welfare Challenge hope to raise awareness of the impacts of welfare on people’s health and the costs to the health care system – and the urgency to find solutions.
Living on $26 for one week is a very limited exposure to the challenges of surviving on a welfare budget. But it is a reality for many people in BC. The amount reflects the budget remaining for a single person on welfare after paying for rent, a few bus tickets to search for work and some basic hygiene costs. The monthly budget for all expenses is $610 dollars.
More information is available on the Raise the Rates website
The Hook: Try eating on $26 a week