BC Budget: Working for Who? Welcome investments in housing and child care but poorest British Columbians left far behind

(Victoria) There are measures to tackle the breadth of poverty in BC through investments in housing and child care in the 2018 BC Budget but there is little to tackle the depth of poverty, according to the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC).

The BCPRC supports the government’s commitment to addressing inequality through these two key pillars of a poverty reduction plan long called for by Coalition members. More low-income housing and enhancement and protection of renters’ rights are needed to prevent and tackle homelessness and severe housing insecurity.

“It is good to see the rebuilding and enhancing of BC’s social services through the budget focus on housing and child care but we are leaving many British Columbians far behind. There are no increases to welfare and disability rates, leaving more than 190,000 British Columbians struggling to survive on these deeply inadequate rates,” says Trish Garner, Community Organizer of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition.

Although some necessary changes will be made to the accessibility of the income assistance system through funding of $6 million over 3 years to increase staffing and reduce wait times, the basic welfare rate in BC will remain at only $710 per month, just over 40 per cent of the poverty line (cost of living).

“Budgets are all about priorities and I’m disappointed that the government has chosen not to prioritize the poorest people in our province. We can and need to do more here in BC to close the gap,” continues Garner. “We can afford to care.”

The BCPRC has long been advocating for targeted policies to recognize the over-representation of poverty for many marginalized communities. Of particular note, the Coalition welcomes: increased supports for youth aging out of care and the increased age of coverage to 26 years; the commitment to build 1,500 units of housing dedicated to women and children fleeing domestic violence; and measures for indigenous people and communities, including 1,750 housing units and funding for Aboriginal Friendship Centres. Much more investment is needed in legal aid and access to justice.

The provincial government is currently holding community consultations throughout BC for the development of the poverty reduction plan. The BCPRC encourages people to continue to participate to highlight their issues and the need for stronger action to address the depth of poverty and increasing inequality in BC.

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For more information, contact: 

Trish Garner, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC) / 604-417-8885

Viveca Ellis, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC) / 604-366-1008

Christine Mettler, Regional Coordinator, Kelowna / 1-778-821-0766

Laura Bennett, Regional Coordinator, Prince George / 1-250-301-7971

Learn more by reading our post: BC Budget in a Nutshell: How does it measure up?

Releases from BC Poverty Reduction Coalition Members:

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Budget 2018: Major investments in child care and affordable housing welcomeFresh from the lockup: Highlights of BC’s action-packed budget 2018

BC Health Coalition: Budget 2018: Smart investments in public health care

Federation of Post Secondary Educators: BC budget continues to increase access to post-secondary education 

BC Teachers’ Federation: Childcare and housing announcements will help with BC’s teacher shortage 

WestCoast LEAF: BC Budget doesn’t go far enough

Inclusion BC: Welcome focus on affordability, but momentum stalls on disability supports

BC Government and Service Employees’ Union: BC Budget provides path to affordability and quality public servicesGovernment must take bolder action on speculation tax

BC Non-Profit Housing Association: Housing Advocates Welcome Historic Investments in Affordable Housing in BC Budget

BC Federation of Labour: Working people will benefit from bold affordability measures in BC Budget 2018

Hospital Employees’ Union: Budget 2018 continues positive shift in B.C.’s priorities for health care and affordability

BC Federation of Students: Child care investment improves access to post-secondary education

BC Non Profit Housing Association: Housing Advocates Welcome Historic Investments in Affordable Housing in BC Budget

Together Against Poverty Society: Budget 2018 – Our Take

BC Aboriginal Child Care Society: Indigenous-led child care in BC finally has the potential to be a reality

Health Sciences Association: Provincial budget delivers critical investments in public services