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- End Legislated Poverty -

End Legislatated Poverty (E.L.P.) is made up of groups that are committed to fighting for an end to poverty and an end to legislation that promotes structural poverty. End Legislated Poverty opposes poor-bashing campaigns of media and politicians. Note: End Legislated Poverty is not currently funded for staffing to provide referral information. Check for information on Povnet (povnet.org) for programs currently offered.

End Legislated Poverty
mail only to-
#211-456 W.Broadway
Vancouver, British Columbia
V5Y 1R3

Tel: 604 897-1209
Email: elp@vcn.bc.ca

ELP would appreciate input.
This could be a good medium for out of towners.
 This is on an experimental basis so far so please be patient with us.


Some Good Links    Learn More   Get involved
Raise the Rates (BC)


TAP Root Archives (Up to Dec 2006)


Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives

CCPA Publications Page


"Denied Assistance"  Report March 2006

Current Info:

End Legislated Poverty Board Meetings Nov 2006

Nov 8th 1:00pm  251 Union Street Vancouver (This is our regular monthlymeeting of Community Reps)

Nov 15th 1:00pm 251 Union Street Vancouver (This is a follow up meeting)

These meetings are the usual 2nd& 3rd  Wed. and will be at our usual location.

This notice is being sent out to previously active members of the "End Legislated Poverty" Coalition.

Will be updating our list as to how  groups want to be involved in networking and/or voting on board business.

In the meantime we are informing groups of our board meetings should you want to attend.  If you are out of town let us know if you want to participate by phone as we can accommodate several members via speaker phone.

Dave Ross  ELP Executive

Time to up date and make arrangements to pay for yearly memberships for groups and individuals.

Watch this space for updates on what we are up to.

May 8th, 2006

UN Experts question Canada’s inaction on poverty, housing, aboriginal rights

GENEVA - “Many of the issues our committee raised in 1993 and 1998 are unfortunately still live issues today,” said Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay, a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights during the committee’s review of Canada’s performance.

  “Years later, the situation appears to be unchanged, and in some respects worse. There is continuing homelessness and reliance on food banks, security of tenure is not still not enjoyed by tenants, child tax benefits are still clawed back, (...) the situation of aboriginal
peoples, migrants and people with disabilities doesn ’t seem to be improving.”

“The Committee is right to challenge Canada to address the depth of poverty which has left the most marginalized people worse off than ever before. There are still too many people who are still denied adequate housing, a decent standard of living, and access to health and higher education,” said Aimée Clark, from the National Anti-Poverty
Organization, one of the Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participating in the Committee review currently held in Geneva.

Several committee members were disturbed by the lack of investment in social programs and by continuing high poverty rates of the most marginalized (women, aboriginal peoples, people of colour and immigrants) and wondered why this has happened when the government is enjoying budget surpluses year after year.

Canada was asked about a number of aboriginal issues, including the Six Nations and the Lubicon Nation land claims, and on-going issues about discrimination against women under the Indian Act. The Committee also expressed serious concern about the disproportionately high rates of violence (including murder) inflicted against Indigenous girls and women in Canada, and raised the correlation between high rates of homelessness among girls and sexual abuse in the home.

Today, Committee members are expected to ask further probing questions about Canada’s compliance.  Issues to be covered include housing, social assistance, employment insurance, education and health. The committee also wants to know how Canada will improve accountability through domestic laws.

 “Economic and social rights must be enforceable rights, not just distant goals,” said Vince Calderhead with the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues. “That’s why we are pleased that the Committee is asking why our federal and provincial courts and human
rights commissions don’t give enough consideration to economic and social rights and why governments continually deny they are accountable to economic, social and cultural rights in court.”

The Review began on Friday May 5th and will end today, May 8th. Participating in the review process are Canadian NGOs, representing the First nations, African Canadians, Women, poor people as well as legal experts. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is expected to submit its concluding observations on May 19th, 2006.

For more information, please contact:
In Canada:  Dennis Howlett (National Anti-Poverty Organization); 613-889-0141
Beth Berton-Hunter (Amnesty International Canada) 416 363-9933 #32
In Geneva: Josephine Gray, (Low-Income Families Together, LIFT) 416 827 7119


Sunday, April 09, 2006
CBC NEWS VANCOUVER - Vancouver residential hotel shut down, tenants evicted

Fifteen residents of a residential hotel in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside have been forced to pack up and leave, because the fire department says their home is no longer safe.
The residents of the Burns Block Hotel were given just three hours to move out late Thursday afternoon.
The fire department said the  inspection revealed the old hotel is unsafe. Fire exits were blocked, alarms didn't work and extinguishers were past due.
Hotel owner Nik Bahrami acknowledges fire exits should not have been blocked.
He says he was trying to  keep thieves out – the same reason he hadn't installed new emergency lights and fire extinguishers.
"Anything you put up there, they take it away, even 50 cents worth, they steal."
Anti-poverty activists are questioning the closure, and accuse the City of Vancouver of trying to clean up the Downtown Eastside at the expense of the poor.
David Eby of the Pivot Legal Society said the hotel should be brought up to code, but feels the city should have given residents time to find new homes first.
"I think the City of Vancouver is under a lot of pressure with the Olympics upcoming, and I think that the response has been currently to shut down what they identify as troubled hotels, which is a fine policy to have as long as people have somewhere else to live.
"But the city also has a policy that resulted in no additional affordable housing being built in Southeast False Creek.  So when you are closing down affordable housing, and not building new affordable housing, there is only one thing that is going to result, and that is homelessness."
The city has arranged for temporary beds at a Salvation Army shelter, and says it will work to find the evicted tenants long-term housing.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives l  Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group

March 27, 2006

Study finds BC's welfare system denying assistance to people in need, 'diverting' many to homelessness and hardship

(Vancouver) A major study released today finds that BC's welfare system is systematically discouraging, delaying and denying assistance to many of the people most in need of help, with harmful consequences for some of the province's most vulnerable residents.

Denied Assistance: Closing the Front Door on Welfare in BC examines why the number of people receiving welfare has plummeted in the wake of changes to eligibility rules and the application system, and looks at what is happening to people who seek and are denied welfare. It is the first in-depth assessment of the new application system, drawing on data obtained through Freedom of Information requests and extensive interviews with people who have applied for welfare, front-line community advocates and Ministry workers.

"The provincial government says its policies are a success. It claims that more people are leaving welfare for work, and that the new application system is 'diverting' people to employment," says Bruce Wallace, Researcher with the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group (VIPIRG), which undertook the study with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).  "This is true for some people. But our research found that many others are being 'diverted' to homelessness, charities, survival sex and other forms of hardship."

"BC's welfare application system is broken," says Seth Klein, the CCPA's BC Director. "It has become so restrictive, so complicated to navigate, and so riddled with delays and discouragements that people in need are being denied help. Policies like the three-week wait and the arbitrary two-year 'independence' test have been used to meet the government's caseload and budget reduction targets, not to help people get jobs."

The study finds that in some cases, delaying and denying people welfare reduces their ability to be self-sufficient. "Lack of assistance forces people to focus their time and resources on meeting basic shelter and food needs, rather than looking for work," says Wallace. "When people go to welfare, they are usually already in a very difficult situation. The three-week wait policy — which often ends up being a four- to six-week wait in practice — leads to greater debt and likeliness of eviction."

Debra Critchley of the Vernon Women's Centre is shocked by the situation in her community. "We are seeing a growing number of women who have been denied welfare and are turning to survival sex as a way to make rent or put food on the table for their children."

Susan Henry, with First United Church in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, says the number of people sleeping in the church continues to climb. "Many of the people who come through our doors have a hard time navigating the system and advocating for themselves, so even if they are actually eligible for welfare they end up turned away. Without the help of an advocate, they would have little chance of getting welfare. But even with help, the rules and timelines are so tight, sometimes there's nothing I can do, or a file gets closed before I can intervene."

The government claims that the shrinking caseload is due to more people leaving welfare for employment. However, the study finds that the decline is due to fewer people going on welfare — that it's a front-door story. According to data obtained through Freedom of Information requests:


  • In the first year after the new welfare rules were introduced, the number of applicants who began to receive benefits dropped by 40% (from 8,234 'entries' or 'starts' per month to just 4,914 entries);
  • The number of 'exits' also fell, but only slightly (from 8,388 per month to 7,631);
  • The acceptance rate for those who apply for welfare has dropped dramatically from 90% in June 2001 to 51% in September 2004.

The CCPA and VIPIRG are asking the Auditor General to undertake an in-depth review of the province's welfare system to determine if the current system is meeting the needs of British Columbians. The study calls on the government to end the arbitrary two-year independence test and the three-week wait immediately, and to re-design the welfare application system so it helps individuals in need.

"Even people who may never need welfare understand that it's important to the wellbeing of our province and communities," says Klein. The CCPA commissioned a poll with Ipsos Reid earlier this month. It found that 89% of British Columbians agree that access to welfare when in need should be a right for all British Columbians.

Numerous additional experts and community advocates are available for comment, including Judy Graves (City of Vancouver Homeless Advocate) and individuals in Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna, Vernon, Victoria.

The study is available at http://www.policyalternatives.ca/.

"Denied Assistance: Closing the Front Door on Welfare in BC" is part of the Economic Security Project, a joint research initiative of the CCPA and Simon Fraser University, funded primarily by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

CCPA webpage: http://www.policyalternatives.ca

The CCPA is a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research institute, dedicated to social and economic justice. We produce and promote progressive research on a wide range of provincial and national policy issues.


Special Report 28

Ombudsman Investigation of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre's
Complaints about the Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance

Press Coverage of the Reports

B.C. welfare system does not function well: Study

The Vancouver Province
Tue 28 Mar 2006
Page: A17

VICTORIA -- B.C.'s welfare system has become so restrictive and complicated that many people no longer qualify for assistance, a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives concludes.

The left-leaning think-tank released a report yesterday saying the government's claim that a reduction in the number of welfare recipients is due to a buoyant economy is misleading.

The centre said there are about 140,000 British Columbians receiving welfare benefits. The number averaged 249,000 in 2001, the year the B.C. Liberals took power. By the end of 2005, the average had shrunk to 144,600.

Claude Richmond, minister of employment and income assistance, said the Liberal government has dramatically reduced the number through its work-oriented approach.

"We've put some 46,000 people back into the workforce off the welfare rolls," he said. "Now by far the largest percentage of people on income assistance are people with disabilities and multiple barriers to work."

But the study tells a different story.

"It has become so restrictive, so complicated to navigate and so riddled with delays and discouragements that people in need are being denied help," said Seth Klein, the centre's B.C. director.

He cited the three-week wait, which forces people to spend three weeks looking for work before their application for welfare is considered. The policy was brought in by the previous NDP government. The study found that a lack of social assistance forced some people to focus their time and energy on meeting basic shelter and food needs, rather than looking for work.

The study's authors called on the auditor-general to conduct a review of the welfare system and for the government to scrap the two-year independence test and the three-week waiting period for benefits.


Rules tough on needy, report says

The Vancouver Sun
Tue 28 Mar 2006
Page: B7
Byline: Glenn Bohn

The number of people in B.C. on social assistance has dropped dramatically because new welfare eligibility rules imposed in 2002 make it harder for people to get welfare, not because more people on welfare have found work.

That's one of the conclusions of a new study released Monday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group.

The non-profit organizations looked at previously undisclosed welfare application statistics obtained through the provincial freedom of information law.

They also conducted 42 confidential interviews with unnamed welfare recipients, welfare advocates and front-line workers in the B.C. employment and income assistance ministry.

"People in genuine need are not being helped," lead investigator Bruce Wallace, a sessional instructor with the school of social work at the University of Victoria, said at a news conference in Vancouver.

"They're being diverted to homelessness, to survival sex, to charity, to increased hardship.

"Rather than helping these people, the ministry sends them on a three-week work search."

Employment and Income Assistance Minister Claude Richmond said healthy and employable people are treated differently from those with disabilities, and the government expects them to look for a job.

"However, if they are in a crisis where there need food and shelter, we look after them right away," Richmond said.

"They still [are required] to do their three-week job search, but we don't turn anyone away who is in crisis and needs food and shelter. We just don't do that."

The three-week job search requirement -- "to encourage individuals to achieve self-sufficiency" -- is one of the new welfare rules the B.C. Liberal government implemented in June, 2002.

Adults without disabilities must also prove that they have been financially independent for at least two consecutive years and have earned more than $7,000.

There's also a requirement for an Internet-based orientation session.

According to the 68-page study, Denied Assistance: Closing the Front Door on Welfare in B.C., these three changes to eligibility rules lead to "discouragement, delay and denial."

The researchers say the government data they obtained shows the acceptance rate for applicants has fallen since the 2001 fiscal year.

In June 2001, 90 per cent of the people who applied for welfare were successful. By September 2004, just 51 per cent were granted income assistance.

Judy Graves, the City of Vancouver's tenants assistance co-ordinator, pointed to a previously publicized study that found the number of homeless people in Greater Vancouver had doubled in the past four years. Those hungry and cold homeless people -- many with mental illness -- have trouble navigating through the welfare application process, she said.

"It's difficult to get them to come to the welfare office, because they've been rejected there so many times," Graves said.

Richmond said homelessness has increased in cities all across Canada, but the government recognizes it is a problem and Premier Gordon Campbell has appointed a premier's panel on homelessness, mental illness and addictions.



Needy not getting welfare, study says
Only half of 35-per-cent caseload decline due to people finding jobs, think tank finds

Globe and Mail
March 28, 2006

VANCOUVER -- While the government lauds the province's thinning welfare rolls, Susan Henry merely has to look around her church every day to see the human result.

In 2001, when the Liberals came to power, about 300 people a month sought daytime sleep and sanctuary at First United Church in the heart of Canada's poorest postal zone, the Downtown Eastside.

Today, says Ms. Henry, a full-time advocate at the church, the total number of so-called "sleepers" who rest their heads on the church's hard pews has ballooned by more than 500 per cent, to 1,530 a month.

"If everything is so swell, why are these people here?" she wondered yesterday. "It's bad. It's very bad."

Ms. Henry endorsed a report released yesterday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives concluding that a major reason for the sharp decline in welfare caseloads is a series of bureaucratic hurdles introduced by the Liberal government in 2002.

According to the report, thousands of needy individuals eligible for welfare are not getting it.

Homelessness and panhandling have both increased noticeably since the new welfare rules came into effect.

"The system is denying and discouraging the very people who need assistance the most," said Seth Klein, B.C. director of the left-of-centre think tank. "The whole welfare application system simply isn't working."

Since June of 2001, when the Liberals took over government from the NDP, the province's welfare caseload has plummeted to less than 103,000 from nearly 158,000, a decline of 35 per cent.

The Liberals have trumpeted the drop, claiming that their "tough love" approach is prodding people off welfare and into jobs.

But the CCPA study, based on a breakdown of welfare statistics obtained under freedom of information requests, found that the number of people on income assistance finding jobs in B.C.'s improved economy accounted for only half the caseload decline.

The rest is due to policy changes by the government that make it much more difficult to obtain welfare in the first place, the report said.

In particular, applicants now need a two-year record of employment and a further three weeks of renewed effort to find a job in order to qualify for income assistance.

Government data for the first year under the tougher rules showed that the number of welfare applicants beginning to receive income assistance dipped by 40 per cent, the CCPA report said.

The acceptance rate for welfare applicants, meanwhile, went from 90 per cent in 2001 to 51 per cent three years later.

Many of those at the bottom of the ability ladder are simply unable to cope with the maze of regulations and required documentation, said Susan Henry of the United Church.

"They have a terrible time. It's the neediest who are falling off."

She said the application process works "really well if you are a middle-class-type-person, with bank statements, employment receipts and the ability to read and write well.

"For those at the bottom, with the least experience and the fewest skills, it's chaos."

Ms. Henry pointed to recent city of Vancouver statistics showing that 75 per cent of the homeless are not receiving welfare, compared with 15 per cent 10 years ago.

She recounted the extreme lengths she had to go to help just two people to obtain income assistance, one with a recent head injury and "a lovely, homeless woman in her 40s" who could not meet the past employment requirements.

"Back in 1995, we had nobody sleeping in pews, and now we have all these marginal people barely eking out a living."

Employment and Income Assistance Minister Claude Richmond dismissed the CCPA report, charging the organization is philosophically opposed to employment-based welfare programs.

And he rejected suggestions that the government's welfare policies are to blame for the increase in homelessness in the province.

"It's a phenomenon that is increasing continent-wide in every city, large and small . . . that's why we've put together a homelessness task force, to combat that," Mr. Richmond told reporters in Victoria.

"On the east side of Vancouver, we are reaching out to people who aren't even aware of the services that are available to them."

Since 2001, 46,000 people have left the welfare rolls and found steady employment, Mr. Richmond said.

The CCPA is a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research institute, dedicated to social and economic justice. We produce and promote progressive research on a wide range of provincial and national policy issues.

Changes to political climate and funding cuts are requiring re-organization for social justice advocacy groups such ELP.
ELP is on the move! After spending months recovering from funding cuts, we have re-grouped and are ready to take on work in the community once again.

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