Email the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services
Every year, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services receives input from British Columbians on issues affecting them and what the priorities should be for the next budget. In 2019, when the all-party Committee released their report, we were shocked and disappointed that for the first time in many years, they did not call for an increase to welfare and disability rates. We created an email tool to encourage the Committee to call for an increase to welfare and disability rates and to advocate for their existing recommendations.
Housing came up as the highest priority in all but one of the 28 communities that the government visited during the poverty reduction consultations. We sent a submission to the Rental Housing Task Force recommending tying rent control to the unit (not the tenant), tighter limits on annual rent increases, adequately enforcing the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) and the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act, and extending tenant rights to include all non-profit social housing currently exempt from the RTA. We also shared many a #RentalHorrorStory to encourage others and show the breadth of issues throughout BC.
Fair Wages Commission
Too many people in BC are working hard, often in more than one job, but still not making ends meet. Many workers tell us: we needed a $15 minimum wage yesterday! BC has the highest working poverty rate in Canada so increasing the minimum wage is part of rebuilding the economic security of British Columbians and tackling rising inequality but the 420,000 people currently earning less than $15 will still be struggling for years. It’s simply unacceptable to leave people in poverty yet we continue to do so.
2018 Municipal Elections
General local elections took place in British Columbia are on October 20, 2018. Local governments can play an important role in poverty reduction as they work with and lobby other levels of government. BC Poverty Reduction Coalition members and supporters took action creating toolkits, all candidates meetings and campaigns targeted at the local government elections.
Thank Your MLA
Thank your MLA for their commitment to a poverty reduction plan for BC with legislated targets and timelines, and urge them to prioritize this commitment as they move forward. We’re thrilled that it’s written into the NDP-Green Agreement as a critical priority as they work to form government now.
Raise the Rates, Leave Our Bus Pass Alone!
This was one element of the ongoing campaign for the rights of people with disabilities in British Columbia. Read the latest report released by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods: Sharing Our Realities: Life on Disability Assistance in British Columbia.
Poverty Myth Busters
Whether you’re at a party, having dinner with your parents, at the bus stop, or listening the news, whenever there’s a discussion about poverty, you will no doubt hear things like “the situation in BC isn’t that bad”, how “the poor are lazy” and they “just need to get a job”, or that “those on welfare are taking advantage” of our world-renowned social assistance programs. This is why the Poverty Free Action Team has launched this campaign. It’s time to bust these poverty myths and get to the root of the problem! Find out more here.
Make Poverty Public was our 2017 provincial election campaign. BC has the second highest poverty rate in Canada, but is now the only province without a poverty reduction plan. The lead-up to May’s provincial election was a window of opportunity for to let candidates from all parties know that you want to vote for someone willing to make a commitment to a poverty reduction plan. Just as we pool our resources to provide public health care and education to all, we must work together to provide public poverty reduction.
Federal Poverty Reduction Consultations: We encouraged individuals and organizations to have their say and participate in the consultations around the development of a poverty reduction strategy for Canada. The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition made it’s submission on June 30th 2017, you can read the full submission here. Both First Call and the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition made a joint submission based on input from all who gathered at our Vancouver consultation. The joint submission can be found here.
Value BC: Equality, Justice and Prosperity for All was our 2017 Speaker Series, which brings renowned speakers to BC in order to establish community dialogues and spark your imagination with exciting ideas and approaches to tackling poverty. Our 2014-15 Poverty Free BC speaker series featured Dr. Gary Bloch, who argued that poverty is a health hazard to all and Medicine Hat Mayor Ted Clugston -known as “The Mayor Who Ended Homelessness.” Join our email list to stay informed about our next speaker series events!
Giving Change: Support the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and our member groups in tackling the root causes of poverty and changing people’s lives. With your help, we can end poverty in BC.
Poverty Free BC Action Week: We teamed up with Raise the Rates, the BC Federation of Labour and many other groups for a Poverty Free BC Rally on March 4th 2017. We raised our voices together and show candidates in the provincial election that we’ll be voting for politicians that commit to a strong, comprehensive poverty reduction plan. In the week leading up to the rally, there was a week of action with each day of the week lined up with an essential pillar of an effective poverty reduction plan.
#Rethinkgiving is a campaign that asks questions during the holiday season. Food banks are necessary to address the immediate needs of people living with hunger. However, they can only provide short-term relief that addresses the downstream symptoms of poverty. It’s time to #rethinkgiving and look for long-term solutions that go upstream to fix its root causes.
UBCM Campaign The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition called on municipalities across BC to take action in support of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy for the province. Twenty-four municipalities adopted resolutions calling for a comprehensive provincial poverty reduction strategy, and the resolution was passed at UBCM in September. See the resolutions on pages 119 and 170 of the UBCM’s resolution package and read about the press conference that we held with City Councillors from across the province at UBCM.
Rethink Poverty: From March to September, we shone the light on poverty in BC and shared items to help you “rethink” our current approach that keeps 1 in 10 British Columbians in poverty. Each month, we focused on one of the seven pillars of the comprehensive, provincial poverty reduction plan that we are calling for, along with hundreds of thousands of supporters throughout BC. It’s time to Rethink Poverty!
The Meet Your MLA campaign thinks that social change can happen in many ways. You and your MLA have an important role to play in making it happen! The decisions MLAs make for our province affect what’s happening in your local community. That’s why it is so important to meet your Local MLA and talk to them about poverty in BC.
The Road to a Poverty-Free BC: Connecting Communities for Upstream Action was a series of workshops where local community members can share their knowledge and strengthen their ability to work for meaningful change. The workshops are planned to help set the stage for a dialogue between communities in BC. Find out more here.
Poverty is an LGBTQ issue was a campaign highlighting that while, queer and trans people face a high level of poverty and marginalization, these communities had previously not been included in initiatives trying to address poverty. So we created a video with an accompanying fact sheet as a start of addressing and making the issue visible. You can visit our campaign page here to download the fact sheet, and to view a teaser of the documentary Under the rainbow, based on our Queer and Trans Poverty Research Study.
End the child support clawback! was a campaign targeting BC’s government policy of taking off child support dollar for dollar from single parents’ income assistance benefit. By taking that money away, the provincial government deprived children living in lone-parent households – some of the most vulnerable children in the province – of their right to child support. Thanks to the tireless work of community organizations and thousands of supporters, the clawback was finally put to an end in February 2015!
Chew on this! was a campaign for a poverty-free Canada, under the broader work of Dignity for all, a joint project founded by Canada Without Poverty and Citizens for Public Justice. On October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, people across the country gathered to hand out lunch bags with a purpose, containing an apple and a postcard to Stephen Harper asking him to take a proactive approach to eradicating poverty in Canada.
BC’s Hardest Working was a campaign aimed at highlighting the growing gap between the rich and the poor in British Columbia. As the “Rich 100” list was published, profiles of “BC’s Hardest Working” were also published, showing that those on social assistance are working hard too, struggling to meet their basic needs.
Imagine a world without food banks is a campaign launched by Faith in Action, based in Victoria, BC, whose members are advocating for the elimination of food banks within their community. Having volunteered at the food bank for years, Faith in Action members are now calling for long-term, sustainable solutions to the problem of hunger and are challenging all levels of government to rebuild Canada’s social safety net and end systemic poverty.
Where is BC’s Poverty Reduction Plan? offered a space to learn and discuss about what a Poverty Reduction Plan for BC could look like, and how to make it happen. There were presentations by Ted Bruce of the Public Health Association of BC, Rita Chudnovsky of Child Care Advocates of BC, Ivan Drury of the Social Housing Coalition of BC, Gudrun Langolf of the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC, and many more.
Union of BC Municipalities resolutions were passed thanks to the work of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, Raise the Rates and Faith in Action. Thanks to their participation 2 key resolutions passed: raising the welfare rates and eliminating the need for food banks by providing food security! The question is: will the provincial government listen?