High poverty with no plan

Despite having the second highest poverty rate in Canada, British Columbia has yet to develop a poverty reduction plan – a fact a think-tank is urging the government to change.

A recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, titled Long Overdue: Why B.C. Needs a Poverty Reduction Plan, highlights the province's lack of a plan and pushes for change.

“Strong policies are urgently needed to dramatically reduce and ultimately eliminate poverty in our province,” the report states. “Comprehensive and ambitious poverty reduction plan for B.C. is long overdue.”

The report states that B.C. has a poverty rate of 13.2 per cent, the second highest in the country. And poverty rates have remained similar to rates prior to the 2008 recession, and much higher than historic lows in the 1970s and 1980s.

“While the government touts 'jobs' as its answer to poverty, a large share of the poor have already taken such advice and are currently employed in the low-wage labour market,” says the report.

The think-tank says the current poverty gap could be erased, eliminating all poverty in the province, with $5.8 billion.

The report suggests several steps the government can take to reduce poverty:

  • Significantly increase welfare and disability rates
  • Increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour and and encourage employers to adopt the living wage for families in their community
  • Build 10,000 new social and co-op housing units annually
  • Adopt the $10-a-day child-care plan, which includes free child care for those earning less than $40,000

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