Local disabled man Steven Willment is challenging B.C. Minister of Employment and Income Assistance Claude Richmond, B.C. NDP leader Carole James, NDP opposition critic for Income Assistance Claire Trevena and our local MLAs to sit down to dinner with three local disabled people and discuss the issues facing the disabled in B.C.
On Dec. 7, Willment’s story ran in the Prince George Free Press. Willment suffers debilitating arthritis as a result of a motorcycle accident. He has a six-year-old son and is a social work student at the College of New Caledonia.
Like tens of thousands of other disabled people in B.C., he struggles to live on $856 a month in disability benefits.
“I’d like to discuss the issues of how difficult it is to survive, especially when we have children,” Willment said. “I’d like them to have the opportunity to expand their education on what it’s like.”
The Liberal government recently increased disability benefits by $70. Prior to that, disabled people living in B.C. received less than $800 a month to live on.
“Minister Richmond talked about the $70 a month increase. That’s the equivalent of giving a starving man a cookie. He’s going to take the cookie because he’s starving but it does nothing to help his situation,” Willment said in an earlier interview. “He has no idea what it’s like to live on $856 a month.”
For people who have not lived halfway below the poverty line, Willment said, it is hard to understand the challenges.
“Come and have dinner with us and talk about the real issues,” he challenged.
Willment is able to offer the invitation only because of the kindness of a stranger.
“After the [first] story ran, some anonymous person put a $125 gift certificate for the Coast Inn of the North in my mailbox. Whoever gave me this gift is the one who has given us this opportunity. I want to thank them on behalf of all the people we hope to help,” Willment said. “It reaffirms my faith in humanity.”