What are the provincial parties’ plans for reducing poverty in BC

According to a recent poll, 78% of British Columbians think it is important for political leaders in BC to address poverty with a provincial poverty reduction plan with clear targets and timelines. Clearly, the public is ready for political leadership on this issue and we would like to know what actions parties will be introducing should they win the provincial election in May.4

We wrote letters to Andrew Weaver (Green Party of BC Leader), Christy Clark (BC Liberal Party Leader), John Horgan (BC NDP Leader), and the eventual leader of the BC Conservative Party to ask about their party’s plans for reducing poverty in BC. We asked for detailed answers to the following questions by the end of March, and will publish the answers that we recieve:

Will you implement a poverty reduction plan for BC with legislated targets and timelines?

  1. If yes, when will the legislation be tabled and what will the targets be?
  2. If no, why not?

What new policies do you plan to introduce to address the seven policy areas that have been identified as crucial components of a comprehensive poverty reduction plan?

  1. Providing adequate and accessible income support for the non-employed:
    1. Would you increase and index welfare benefit rates in all categories, including the Expected to Work and Persons With Disabilities category?
    2. What other rule changes do you plan for social assistance?
  2. Improving earnings and working conditions for low-wage workers:
    1. Will you increase the minimum wage to $15/hour, and index it to inflation?
    2. Do you propose any improvements to employment standards?
    3. Will you introduce or enhance any other forms of income support for low-income British Columbians?
    4. Would you help to encourage the payment of Living Wages for Families throughout BC?
  3. Addressing the needs of those most likely to be living in poverty:
    1. What specific measures do you plan to introduce to reduce poverty (rates and depth) among children, lone-mother households, single senior women, indigenous people, people with disabilities (including mental illness), recent immigrants, refugees, and temporary foreign workers (including farm workers and live-in caregivers), and queer and transgender people?
  4. Implementing initiatives to end homelessness and the lack of affordable housing:
    1. What plans do you have for the construction of new social housing and the introduction of other measures to increase the supply of low-income housing to fulfill the need of 10,000 social housing units per year?
    2. Do you plan to improve tenant protections and rent controls?
    3. What level of new funding do you plan to commit to addressing homelessness and housing issues?
  5. Providing universal publicly-funded child care:
    1. Do you support the $10 a Day Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning proposed by the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC?
    2. If yes, on what timeline will you phase in its implementation?
    3. What level of new funding do you plan to commit to addressing BC’s current child care crisis?
  6. Providing support for training and education:
    1. How do you propose to increase access for people on social assistance and low-wage workers to post-secondary education, training and apprenticeships?
    2. Would you reduce post-secondary tuition fees by 50% and increase the availability of post-secondary grants for low-income students?
    3. Would you increase funding to K-12 education to address inequality among students and schools?
    4. Would you increase funding for children with special needs and ELL students in the K-12 system?
    5. Would you restore free Adult Basic Education and provide free ELL for adults?
  7. Promoting the health of all British Columbians:
    1. How will you ensure access to essential health services not included in the public health care system, such as prescription medication, dental and eye care?
    2. Would you eliminate MSP premiums?
    3. What are your plans to improve the quality and accessibility of community care for seniors and people with disabilities (including home care and residential care)?
    4. What are your plans for improving community-based mental health and addiction services?
    5. Would you commit to full implementation of the BC Ombudspersons’ report on seniors care in a reasonable time frame?

Do you have anything else you would like to add about your approach to poverty reduction in BC?