In many ways, this pandemic has highlighted inequalities.
The virus has disproportionately infected and killed Black and Indigenous people across the U.S. Some data suggests the same is happening in Canada.
The City of Toronto is one of the few places in the nation that collects race-based data.
That city recently reported recently that Black neighbourhoods in Toronto have higher COVID-19 infections than white neighbourhoods.
Despite calls for B.C. to collect race-based pandemic data, the province has not.
The disease also shines a light on economic aid.
For some people, there’s more money available then before. For example, B.C. is offering a rent subsidy program for renters and landlords during the pandemic.
To qualify, applicants must have had a drop of at least 25 per cent in monthly revenue due to COVID-19, pay more than 30 per cent of their income towards rent and make no more than $74,150 for singles/couples without dependents or $113,040 with dependents.
Renters can get up to $500.
Before COVID-19, B.C. had another rental assistant program called RAP.
To qualify, families must have a gross household income of less than $40,000, which is almost half of what is currently available during the worst economic disaster since the Second World War.
RAP depends on how much you make, age and where you live.
I tried the RAP calculator with multiple scenarios for Revelstoke.
Even if I put I was over 60 years old with a spouse, two dependent children, paying $1,200 in rent with a household gross income of $35,000, I still didn’t qualify for any assistance.
“Sorry,” my computer screen would say and I’d try to make my application more desperate. I couldn’t get the calculator to admit I needed assistance.
Currently, with the COVID-19 rent subsidy, families could be paying almost $3,000 in rent and still qualify for $500.
Glancing at the Revy Rentals Facebook page, people can rent an entire three bedroom home in Revelstoke for less than $2,000.
Even people on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit are making more than many seniors. Under that benefit, folks get $2,000 per month, with the option of still making another $1,000.
Prior to COVID-19, many low income seniors only get approximately $1,500 per month.
It’s ironic that for some people, there’s more economic aid available during a global crisis then during the “good times.”
When the pandemic ends, perhaps Canada will rethink how it helps the most vulnerable.
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