Re: MLA to live on welfare, Dec. 6.
MLA Jagrup Brar (Surrey-Fleetwood) has taken a courageous stand to accept the MLA Welfare Challenge and live on provincial income assistance rates for a month in order to discover the reality of life for social welfare recipients.
Some people in the community feel that this challenge is a joke and that living on $610 a month will not be difficult. They are very wrong.
Brar has undertaken a serious effort to show the plight of people receiving social welfare. His actions will demonstrate a big divide between the rich and poor, and make people aware that this gap has to be minimized.
Almost 60 per cent of the South Asian community lives under the poverty line, but they do not realize their predicament because we engage in practices of communal living within our large families so that we can economize living expenses. When groups of people, like a family, are able to pool their money together, they can stretch their dollars even further.
I’d like to bring the focus off of those receiving income assistance to the farm workers in our communities. It is very difficult to raise a family on farm-worker wages, especially as they do not even earn minimum wage.
How can farm workers sustain themselves while sending their children to higher education? They will never be able to afford it.
Many people who live under the poverty line visit India, wear very nice clothes and pretend to be well paid. However, they live and earn here – in Canada. They have to pay for food, shelter and other miscellaneous necessities of life in Canadian dollars, not in Indian rupees.
They must consider supporting this demonstration for justice.
In the first week of January, I will ask the community and farm workers to come out and support this event by asserting their plight with large placards stating: “We Want Minimum Wage”; “We Want Stat Holidays”; and “We Want Overtime.”
Farm workers deserve these rights like any other workers in B.C. governed by employment standards.
All farm workers live under the poverty line. I implore the community to support Brar’s challenge. The initiative is a great platform for us to put pressure on the government to do something for poor working people.
Charan Gill, Surrey