In B.C., the costs of crime associated with poverty are $745 million. This includes direct costs, such as policing and the criminal justice system, as well as intangible costs, such as pain and suffering and loss of life.

People living in poverty are vastly over-represented in Canada’s prison population, and they are also more likely to be victims of crime. Extremely low welfare rates lead people to make difficult “choices,” such as staying with abusive partners, resorting to survival sex (trading sex for shelter, for example), panhandling, and stealing.  Our system criminalizes people for making impossible choices, while people living in poor neighbourhoods in our province face disproportionate surveillance.

Let’s get to the heart of the problem, fight stigma and reduce poverty.


  1. The Cost of Poverty in BC (CCPA, July 2011)
  2. As VPD budget spirals out of control, defunding police is our community alternative to drug war (VANDU, December 2019)
  3. Project Inclusion: Confronting Anti-homeless & Anti-substance user stigma in British Columbia (Pivot Legal, December 2018)
  4. No Pill For This Ill: Our Community Vision for Mental Health (Carnegie Community Action Project, April 2018)