Spring has arrived and with it emerge an array of burgeoning opportunities for positive policy change. On offer this week we have the results of our survey to the BC NDP leadership candidates, updates on upcoming local living wage forums, and a few great suggestions from Make Poverty History toward a favourable federal outcome…
1. BC NDP Leadership Candidate Results
As with the BC Liberals, we put our questions to the NDP leadership candidates and the results are in…
And just in time for the NDP leadership vote April 17th!
We sent each candidate a copy of the open letter and asked them a few questions:
- What is your position in regards to the open letter?
- Do you support the legislated targets and timelines outlined in the letter?
- Would you create a cross-government secretariat with a lead minister?
- Specifically what actions would you take in the 7 policy action areas outlined in the letter?
Scroll down to see their answers or download the PDF.
We have been heartened to see that the call for a Poverty Reduction Plan has figured centrally in the NDP leadership debates. All the candidates have committed to bringing forward a plan with targets and timelines, and have proposed specific policy measures covering most of the priority policy areas identified in the PRC’s open letter.
Dix has made reducing inequality a centerpiece of his campaign. In response to the PRC, Dix replied: ”I strongly support the development and implementation of a plan for poverty reduction in BC. The plan would have clear targets and goals. It would be one of the highest and first priorities of a cabinet that I would lead. Such a plan must involve all aspects of government to be successful with a lead cabinet minister, and a designated cabinet committee to guide the initiative. As Premier, I would commit to co-chairing that committee. Our plan would address training, public education, the social determinants of health, child care and early learning, income supports, jobs, employment standards, minimum wage, housing, community living and dental care among other issues.” For more information on Dix’s platform: http://adriandixforbc.ca/issues/
Farnworth released a fairly detailed poverty reduction strategy in January that outlines concrete steps to address poverty in BC. It can be found at:http://mikefarnworth.ca/farnworth-outlines-poverty-reduction-strategy-to-help-vulnerable-families-and-children-across-b-c/
In response to the PRC, Farnworth stated that: “The first component of this (poverty reduction) strategy is to appoint a single cabinet minister that would report directly to the Premier’s Office and have responsibility for the planning and implementation of a family and child poverty reduction strategy… I support the targets and timelines outlined in your open letter. The strategies that I have outlined in my poverty reduction strategy will be my road map for achieving these goals.”
Horgan gave a detailed response to the PRC, which he has posted on his website:http://www.horganforbc.ca/bc-poverty-reduction-coalition-response.
In his response he states that: “Poverty reduction is a priority of mine… No government should be satisfied with any other target than the elimination of poverty. Anything else is an acceptance of permanent child poverty, senior’s poverty, of the working poor. And that is not acceptable in BC. Poverty reduction now is the first step towards the longer-term goal of elimination. That is my goal as a candidate for leader of the NDP, and I would bring that to the office of Premier… So what would I do? There are many things, but here are my immediate priorities: we need targets and we need accountability. Your group and others are calling for a 30% reduction in the poverty rate within 4 years, and by 75% within 10 years. I agree with those targets and, frankly, I would want to do better than that, because achieving those goals still leaves almost 350,000 people in poverty after 4 years. That’s not good enough. I’m not going to bury these targets in a Ministry and wait for a report at the end of the 3 years. As Premier, poverty reduction will be my priority, and I will report to the legislature and answer questions each year about when we’ve succeeded, where we’re falling behind and how to do better.”
We have not heard from Larsen. On his website he mentions social justice being a priority of his. Specifically, he would like to see an immediate increase in funding to education as well as an indexed minimum wage and significant welfare reform. Larsen’s website ishttp://votedana.ca/platform#socialjustice
In February, the Simons campaign published the most detailed poverty reduction plan of the candidates (although his targets are slightly less ambitious than ours). His full plan can be found at: http://nicholassimons2011.ca/2011/02/09/strategy-for-ending-poverty-in-bc/. His poverty reduction strategy includes a living wage strategy; substantial increases to social assistance; restored capacity to employment standards; a $12 minimum wage by 2012; developing a comprehensive, universally accessible, quality system of early learning and child care for children 0-12 years of age within 5 years; developing 10,000 social housing units, with an average of 1,000 units built annually over the next 10 years; and restoring funding for legal aid services to at least the level available in 2001. Simons also proposes to designate an independent officer of the legislature to report annually on the plan and the targets. Simons has included specifics on the costs of implementing these policy changes in his plan that can be viewed from the link above.
2. Living Wage Forums – Victoria April, 7th (Today!)
The Victoria Labour Council is holding a public forum on living wages and child poverty onThursday, April 7 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the BCGEU offices, 2994 Douglas St.
Speakers will include Michael McCarthy Flynn of the Living Wage for Families Campaign, and Deborah Littman, who has guided the development of living wage policy in London, UK. Find out more at http://victorialabour.ca/wp3/?page_id=294.
For info on upcoming Lower Mainland forums visit: http://livingwageforfamilies.ca/
Monday April 11 • 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Alice McKay Room – Vancouver Public Library
350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
Moderated by Dr. Clyde Hertzman
Tuesday April 12th• 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Theatre 2600, SFU Surrey
250 – 13450 – 102 Avenue, Surrey
Moderated by: To be confirmed
3. Vote to Make Poverty History
With a federal election fast approaching Make Poverty History has launched their own campaign to make sure poverty reduction is a priority election issue… in 8 easy steps!
(From MPH) A federal election is a great opportunity to advance our campaign to make poverty history. Please help to make this an election that will make a difference.
We can greatly improve the chances of governments taking serious actions to make poverty history at home and abroad if we make poverty a key election issue. If we can use the election to secure commitments from party leaders on anti-poverty policies, it will be much easier to get them to keep these promises after an election. We need to show candidates that many voters care about poverty and want to know what candidates and parties will do to make poverty history.
Check out http://www.makepovertyhistory.ca/vote for details.
Thanks for your continued support!
The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition