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Where BC political parties stand on poverty reduction

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Greetings BC Poverty Reduction Open Letter endorsers,

Over the last few weeks, we have asked the three major political parties to tell us where they stand on committing to a poverty reduction plan for BC. We’ve done this by directly contacting them and through all of your efforts—writing letters to the party leaders, contacting your MLA candidates, and asking questions at all-candidates debates.

We’ve called on them to commit to legislated targets and timelines, and to specific actions in seven policy areas. We have gotten official and informal responses from all of three parties about how their platforms respond to our call for a poverty reduction plan. We’ve analysed their responses and election platforms, taking also into consideration their responses in the media.

Below we summarize where each party has landed. The links for each party will take you to a more detailed analysis of each party’s platform. The detailed analysis is also available at bcpovertyreduction.ca, which also includes a table that outlines the parties’ responses on particular parts of the poverty reduction plan.

The Liberal Party does not commit to a poverty reduction plan with clear targets and timelines. The Premier has written, “the Province of British Columbia has made promising steps to address the challenges associated with poverty and we are working on additional measures to put together a comprehensive plan to continue moving forward.” The closest the Liberal platform comes to suggesting a target is in the area of homelessness, in titling the one-page policy section on housing, “Ending homelessness with new solutions.” The section describes various initiatives to date. But the goal of ending homelessness is not linked to clear timelines.

The New Democratic Party platform does commit to “Developing a poverty reduction plan with targets and timelines that build on our initiatives that will raise the minimum wage, support jobs and skills training, increase affordable housing, improve child protection and change income assistance.” This is good news. However, the NDP plan does not specify what the poverty reduction targets and timelines should be (presumably this would be determined after the election), nor does it say if such targets and timelines would be legislated (which is key to accountability). The NDP commitment with respect to homelessness is more concrete. Their plan commits to “Ending the crisis in homelessness in 5 years.”

The Green Party has included poverty reduction as a priority in their platform, British Columbia’s Green Book: “The Green Party understands that immediate action is needed to ensure every British Columbian has a meaningful opportunity to share in the wealth of this province.” In terms of targets, the key goals of their plan include ensuring British Columbians can all meet their basic needs, and “reversing the trend towards greater disparity between rich and poor.” Additionally, in the area of housing and homelessness, the Green Party has committed to “safe and affordable homes” for everyone living in BC. As the Green Party is not contesting government, they have not costed out their policies.

Please circulate this to your friends, family, co-workers and networks, as a useful resource in the final 12 days of the election.

Best regards,
BC Poverty Reduction Committee
info@bcpovertyreduction.ca