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Surrey MLA Begins Living On $610 A Month Welfare Rate

Well this isn’t something you see politicians doing everyday.

New Democrat Jagrup Brar, a Surrey M.L.A accepted the dare issued in an open letter to B.C.’s 85 MLAs last May by the poverty advocacy group Raise the Rates.

“I have chosen this path to meet many people living in poverty, listen to their stories and share those stories with the people of British Columbia. By doing so, I hope to initiate a meaningful debate about poverty based on the actual reality on the ground,” Brar told reporters at a press conference before starting the challenge.

The Surrey-Fleetwood MLA will be living away from his young family, and plans on spending the first 16 days of the month in Surrey and the remaining days in Vancouver. With him he is taking a backpack of essentials and about 50 cents given to him by his children so he can use a phone in case of an emergency.

“This is not something I’m very excited for, but I’m committed to do it. I am a little nervous and I’m concerned about my health,” Brar added.

In 1986, former B.C. New Democrat MLA Emery Barnes lived on welfare for seven weeks in the Downtown Eastside and lost thirty pounds in the process. Afterward he called for a welfare rate of $700 a month, which would add up to more than $1,270 today when adjusted for inflation.

“Once you pay your rent, your telephone, your bus fare, you’re left with approximately $4 a day to eat on, which lasts about a week and a half, and after that you scrounge,”

Brar will apply for welfare on Tuesday when offices open following the holidays. In the meantime, he is on the streets and trying to secure a spot in a local shelter. To make sure Brar doesn’t take the place of someone in need, donations will be given to people who help him.

Now this is what you want your elected official to do! Getting your hands dirty when you don’t have too, show’s a lot of commitment. Hope all goes well Jagrup!

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