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Surrey MLA is running low on money

Jagrup Brar trudges through the rain in North Surrey on his way to a welfare office last week. - Evan Sea/Photo
Jagrup Brar trudges through the rain in North Surrey on his way to a welfare office last week.
— image credit: Evan Sea/Photo

Ten days into his experiment living on welfare rates, MLA Jagrup Brar has $55 left in his account and thinks he'll be completely out of money by Jan. 20.

Brar, the MLA for Surrey-Fleetwood, accepted Raise the Rates' welfare challenge to live on $610 for the month of January. He has spent $375 for rent and has bought a bus pass and some groceries, and has just over $55 left.

"My money is running out more quickly than I thought," Brar said. "I will run out of money some day, then I have to survive and find food where people who don't have any resources find food."

He says that could include binning (diving into dumpsters).

Asked if he'd eat the food he finds in a garbage bin, Brar said he wasn't sure.

On Tuesday, he said the first 10 days of the challenge have been extremely hard.

One of the most frightening nights he's had was the second day, when he slept at a North Surrey shelter.

Before going in, a lady came up to him and said she had a terrible time sleeping, because a man had placed a knife and a hammer between them.

When Brar laid down that night, he found himself beside the same man, spending the first few hours awake, staring at a knife and hammer.

"I never thought I would be able to sleep all night," Brar said, adding he managed to get a few hours of shuteye.

Brar will continue to live in Surrey until Jan. 16, and then goes to Vancouver for the last half of the month.

"I know it's going to get a lot harder when I get to Vancouver," Brar said, adding he'll be sleeping in single room occupancy rooms (SROs) and money will likely be gone. "I think my body is going to feel the pain more and more, as I'm starving my body."

During the last 10 days, he has met homeless people, single mothers, teen mothers, youth and farmworkers.

"My experience so far has been eye-opening, heartbreaking and myth-breaking, and painful," Brar said.

He is blogging about his experience at http://mlaonwelfare.com

@diakiw

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