(British Columbia) On October 30, the BC government announced the launch of BC’s first poverty reduction strategy with the appointment of a 27-person Advisory Forum and news of upcoming community consultations to be hosted throughout BC from November to March.
Trish Garner, Community Organizer of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, is pleased to be included on the Advisory Forum, and looks forward to getting to work with the diverse group of experts, which includes people in poverty or with past experience of poverty, advocates, indigenous leaders, representatives from business and organized labour, and academics.
“This is an exciting opportunity to bring BC from the back of the pack to become a national leader in poverty reduction,” says Garner. “As the last province to consider a poverty reduction plan, we can learn from what has worked and what hasn’t to ensure a meaningful impact on people’s lives.”
“For instance, Newfoundland and Labrador wish that they had included legislated targets and timelines to provide long-term accountability so we can do that; Ontario now realize that an exclusive focus on child poverty, while a critical issue, misses so many in poverty so we can aim more broadly; and Quebec has a human rights framework to their poverty reduction legislation so we can build in those obligations here in BC to start from a place of dignity.”
The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition also welcomes the appointment to the Poverty Reduction Advisory Forum of two of their Executive Committee members, Stephen D’Souza, Executive Director of Burnaby Community Services, and John Millar, former Provincial Health Officer and member of the Public Health Association of BC.
The Social Planning and Research Council of BC will facilitate the community consultations to be held in 20 communities throughout BC, and the Coalition encourages everyone to participate either online, in person or by sending in a written submission.
However, Jean Swanson of Raise the Rates and a member of the Coalition’s Executive Committee, cautions that “the government should not use consultation to stall on doing the actual things that need to be done, such as increasing welfare rates and making welfare offices more respectful of people on welfare, as well as building social housing.”
As the Coalition has been saying for many years, a poverty reduction plan should include raising income supports and the minimum wage, and investing in social housing, universal child care, education and training, and community health care. The Coalition now has the support of over 400 organizations in BC for this form of strong, comprehensive, preventative plan.
After over a decade of government inaction, the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition is hopeful that the new government will take a leadership role in tackling the root causes of poverty and welcomes the opportunity to finally start working on a poverty reduction plan for BC.
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For more information, contact:
Trish Garner, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition
firstname.lastname@example.org / 604-417-8885
Stephen D’Souza, Burnaby Community Services
email@example.com / 604-292-3904
The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition aims to see the introduction of a bold and comprehensive poverty reduction plan from the government of British Columbia that would include legislated targets and timelines to significantly reduce poverty and homelessness.