#2 - 630B Carnarvon St., New Westminster BC V3M 1E5

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Phone: 604-522-8706



Royal City Record: 'The situation has become dire'; Disability activist says pension doesn't allow for basic needs

Tom Page, leader of BC ACORN's Disability Rights Group.Royal City resident Tom Page has firsthand knowledge about the financial struggles felt by people with disabilities.

Page, who collects a disability benefits of $906 a month, said some people on disability get just over $700 a month.

"I have fibromyalgia and severe osteoarthritis. I have also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, although I am stabilized. I am 75 per cent deaf in both ears. I have a knee that has been operated on three times. It is difficult to walk because all the cartilage is gone, and it is now a bone-on-bone situation," he said. "I was told by an orthopedic surgeon I would be in a wheelchair when I was 55. I am 59 and still walking. I consider myself ahead of the game."

Page has been on a disability pension for five years, having tried to work different jobs and to return to work various times through the years.

"I worked all my life prior to that," he said of his deteriorating health. "My main career, I was a computer systems analyst. I went into business. I had an Internet business. I had a consulting business."

Because of his health issues, Page is unable to do any work that is physical or stressful.

"I am struggling," he said. "I'd like to go back to work if I could find something suitable."

Before his health deteriorated, Page could run five miles a day, work out at the gym and participate in sports like swimming and squash.

"It's difficult for a person who has lived a comfortable middle-class life to not only be disabled, but impoverished," he said. "That's the situation."

Getting by each month is challenging for people on disability pensions, Page said.

"It's extremely difficult, even with the food bank," he said. "It is difficult to eat a healthy diet. The food bank usage has increased. The amount you can get has decreased."

Page recently joined about 35 members of ACORN in a protest outside the Ministry of Social Development office in New Westminster. The New Westminster-based chapter of ACORN Canada tackles issues such as the need for safe and healthy rental housing and the need for increases to disability benefit rates.

Action for Disability Rights in BC

Disability Rights Group in action on October 24, 2012.35 members of BC ACORN's Disabilty Rights Group took action last week. They rallied at an office of the Ministry of Social Development and delivered a letter to minister Moira Stillwell, which is copied below. 

The Disabilty Rights Group will continue to take action until the system that over 100,000 disabled British Colombians depend on is fixed.

 They were joined by John Bail, National Director of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) Pacific Region, who brought a message of solidarity. 

PRESS ADVISORY: BC ACORN Disability Rights Group demanding increased income from Ministry of Social Development

BC ACORN Disability Rights Group ACORN’s Disability Rights Group is a growing organized body of disabled British Columbians demanding livable allowances from the Provincial Government. They are holding their second monthly action as a part of the rights-based campaign for livable income.

  • Wednesday Oct 24th at 11:15 AM
  • New Westminster Ministry of Social Development Office – Columbia Square at the 10th St. and Agnes St. entrance. (1015 Columbia St.)

Tom Page, leader of the group states: “The response from the disabled people’s community has been strong. More and more people have been calling the ACORN office asking what they can do to help out the campaign. Disabled people have nothing to lose, it’s hard to imagine falling further behind economically.”

ACORN Disability Rights Group is a large group of determined disabled people committed to justice. They believe it is their human right to receive a livable income.

ACORN is demanding

  1. An immediate increase of PWD rates to $1200, and review of what amount of money is needed for disabled people to meet the cost of living.
  2. Make the benefits accessible for disabled people by cutting needless bureaucratic red tape and automatically getting recipients the benefits they are entitled to.

For more information and reports, or to talk with spokesperson Tom Page, call Scott Nunn at 778 500 2874 - or email bcacornva@acorncanada.org

For more info on ACORN Canada visit www.acorncanada.org

Big Returns: Update from BC ACORN Tax Site

Lead volunteer Jane Tseng at BC ACORN's tax site. Since 2007 ACORN members across the country have been helping their neighbors file their tax returns. 

Here's what that has meant for low and moderate income communities in BC's lower mainland: 

  • 10,961 returns filed. 
  • $12,301,800 delivered to people in the form of their returns, credits and benefits. 
  • A quarter of the returns processed were from past years - meaning they likely wouldn't have been submitted without the help of BC ACORN's volunteers and members. 
  • Approximately $790,000 saved by community members who would otherwise have paid to have their returns prepared. 
  • 2/3rds of the people who came to get their taxes done were also engaged in ACORN Canada's campaigns for financial justice

ACORN members are grateful for the support of the many volunteers who make this service possible, and for the generous financial support of Vancity Credit Union

Burnaby Now: Roma rally participant pleased; Refugees concerned with new immigration rules

Rally for fair treatment of refugees.

A group of Roma-Hungarian refugee families descended on the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada office in Vancouver last Tuesday for a rally and managed to have their case heard by one insider.

"We had roughly around 40 people," said Florian Botos, a Burnaby resident and Roma-Hungarian who's lived in Canada for years. "We came out as families, small kids were there."

The rally was mostly Roma-Hungarian families from Burnaby, New Westminster and Coquitlam, but ACORN, a community activist group, helped them organize the protest.

Burnaby Now: Rally in Burnaby demands increase to disability rates

BC ACORN's Disability Rights Group.Roughly a dozen people, mostly with disabilities, gathered outside a Burnaby welfare office Wednesday, demanding the government increase their monthly benefit payments.

"We're fed up being treated like a bunch of beggars. We're angry and we're not going to be silent any longer," said New Westminster resident Tom Page, spokesperson for ACORN, a social justice organization. ACORN's disability rights group was holding the demonstration on Wednesday morning on the corner of Kingsway and McKay Avenue near Metrotown.

According to Page, people receiving disability benefits from the government live in "abject extreme poverty" receiving only $906 a month (which translates to $10,872 annually), while Albertans receive $1,588.

"B.C. has one of the highest costs of living in Canada, but the disability rates have fallen to sixth place," Page told the crowd through a megaphone.

Page also bemoaned the difficulties and wait-times to get on disability and the fact that benefits are not retroactive to the date of application.

ACORN wants the disability rates raised to $1,200 immediately, followed by a study to come up with a livable rate that's indexed for inflation. According to Page, who's on disability, the government hasn't increased the rates since 2007.

ACORN Disability Rights Group Launch Aggressive Campaign for Liveable Allowance from BC Government

BC ACORN's Disability Rights Group.BC ACORN’s Disability Rights Group will be launching a more aggressive campaign to increase pressure on the government to meet people’s basic needs - it has become 100% clear that the BC Government will not increase the rates for disabled people. The ACORN Disability Rights Group will be holding a launching rally, as well as recruiting new members who will be waiting in line on Welfare Wednesday outside of the Ministry of Social Development office in Burnaby.

Join us Wednesday, Sept 26th at 11:00 AM – Ministry of Social Development, 4603 Kingsway.

Burnaby Now: Roma refugee families rally in Vancouver

BC ACORN rallies at Immigration Canada offices. Sept 18 2012.Roma-Hungarian refugee families from Burnaby, New Westminster and Coquitlam are gathering for a rally today outside of the federal immigration offices on Georgia Street in Vancouver.

"Roma people, Roma families have a big fear to go back to Hungary. Their life is in great danger there," said Florian Botos, a Burnaby resident who's helping organize the rally. Botos is expecting 50 or 60 people, mostly Roma refugee families from Hungary.

According to Botos, Roma people in Hungary face widespread discrimination and attacks from neo-Nazis, some of which have resulted in death.

The families are planning a peaceful protest, said Botos.

PRESS ADVISORY: Hungarian Roma refugees concerned for safety if and when deported

BC ACORN rally for refugee rights. September 18 2012. Members of ACORN Canada will be holding a protest in front of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada on Tuesday, September 18th at noon to highlight the serious threat to life and safety that new deportation rules mean for the Roma community in Canada.

Florian Botos is the spokesperson of ACORN Canada's Roma constituency:

"They are deporting us back to a situation where we will be beaten, harassed and possibly murdered by neo-Nazi groups that roam the streets of Hungary with little to no deterrence from the Police. It's terrifying.