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Inequality

Health

Housing

Crime

Children

Costs

  • Inequality

    Inequality negatively impacts physical and mental health, education outcomes, trust and community life, homicide rates, children’s health and wellbeing, drug abuse, and more. As a result, more equal societies have far less health and social problems.

    BC has the highest rate of wealth inequality in the country. The richest 10 per cent of B.C. families control 56 per cent of the province’s wealth, compared to 48 per cent for the country as a whole.

    This isn’t just about market forces. Government policies keep incomes at the bottom low and give tax breaks to those at the top. Our welfare rates are completely inadequate at $610 a month for a single person. And the final minimum wage rate of $10.45 an hour will not put a worker above the poverty line in Vancouver and other large cities in B.C. But the view from the top is pretty rosy, when you combine all personal taxes (income, sales, property, and carbon taxes plus MSP premiums), it turns out that the richest 20% of BC households actually pay a lower total provincial tax rate than the rest of us.

    Poverty is concentrated in specific populations, such as Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, recent immigrants, lone-mother households and single senior women, so the negative effects of inequality are more likely to be experienced by these groups.

    Let’s get to the heart of the problem. Economic growth doesn’t make societies more equal; in fact, it may do the opposite. A poverty reduction strategy and a fair tax system would make our society more equal and our communities healthier, both physically and socially.

    Resources

  • Costs

    Resources

    1. The Cost of Poverty in BC (CCPA, July 2011)
    2. The Dollars and Sense of Solving Poverty (National Council of Welfare, Autumn 2011)
  • Children

    We have one of the highest child poverty rates in Canada, as approximately 1 in 5 children live in poverty in BC. We are doing a great disservice to our future generations.

    Poverty has a profound impact on the health and well being of children and families. When children go to school hungry or poorly nourished, their energy levels, memory, problem-solving skills, creativity, concentration and behaviour are all negatively impacted. As a result, these children may not reach their full physical and social developmental potential.

    The under-funding of public education has meant an increase in school fees, such as those now collected for field trips, supplies, sports and arts, and specific course materials. This causes great family stress and children from low-income families often exclude themselves from activities and programs. The role of public education in giving every child an equal chance is seriously undermined by the inequity created by school fees.

    Post-secondary education is inaccessible. Tuition fees put such studies out of reach of too many and fear of debt keeps many low-income people away.

    Poverty is concentrated in specific populations, such as Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, recent immigrants and lone-mother households, so children within these families are far more likely to live in poverty.

    Let’s get to the heart of the problem. The best returns on investments are the ones contributing to the well-being of children, as dollars spent in the early years create savings in future spending on health, social and justice services.

    Resources

    1. 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card (BC Campaign 2000, FirstCall with SPARC BC, November 2015)
    2. Shameful Neglect: Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada (CCPA, May 2016)
    3. $10 a day Child Care Plan: Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning (Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, Early Childhood Educators of BC, April 2016)
    4. UNICEF REPORT CARD 13: Fairness for Children (UNICEF, April 2016)
    5. Walking the Line to Put Their Families First Lone Mothers: Navigating Welfare and Work in British Columbia (First Call, SFU, Single Mothers Alliance and SPARC BC, January 2016)
    6. First Nations Child Poverty: A Literature Review and Analysis (First Nations Children’s Action Research and Education Service, 2015)
    7. Housing need in Canada: Healthy lives start at home (Canadian Paediatric Society, October 2015)
    8. Are We Doing Enough? A status report on Canadian public policy and child and youth health (Canadian Paediatric Society, January 2012)
    9. BC’s Shame: Radio Documentary on Child Poverty (BCIT, December 2011)
  • Housing

    The housing crisis affects all of us. You can’t read the news these days without something coming up about housing affordability and homelessness in BC.

    A recent study found that 4 out of the 5 least affordable cities for home ownership in Canada are in BC (1). And the situation is far worse for renters – we’ve been hearing stories from people facing evictions in Vancouver, Burnaby, Prince Rupert, Kelowna and in communities across the province.

    Homelessness is a significant issue in BC. There are approximately 2770 homeless people in Metro Vancouver and an estimated 15,000 homeless people across BC. However, homeless counts are under-estimates and only capture the tip of the iceberg, not telling the story of people couch-surfing or living in over-crowded houses.

    In Still Dying on the Streets: Homeless Deaths in British Columbia, Megaphone Magazine found that at least 46 people died on the streets in B.C. in 2014–a 70 per cent increase from the year previous. The median age of death for a homeless person in BC is between 40 and 49 years, almost half the life expectancy of 76.4 years for the average British Columbian.

    Homeless camps have formed to create safety and community in Abbotsford, Maple Ridge and Victoria but they’re constantly under threat from eviction without any stable housing being provided.

    Poverty is concentrated in specific populations, such as Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, recent immigrants, lone-mother households and single senior women, so inadequate housing and homelessness are more likely to be experienced by these groups.

    Let’s get to the heart of the problem. Housing the homeless saves us money in the long-run and taking the housing pressure off low-income families puts more money in their pockets, which, in turn, boosts the local economy and improves our communities.

    Resources

    1. Getting Serious About Affordable Housing: Towards a Plan for Metro Vancouver (CCPA, May 2016)
    2. Youth Rights! Right Now! Ending Youth Homelessness: A Human Rights Guide (Canada Without Poverty, June 2016)
    3. Still Dying on the Streets: Homeless Deaths in British Columbia, 2006-2014 (Megaphone, March 2016)
    4. We can’t talk about inequality without talking about homelessness (Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, The Guardian, March 2016)
    5. Canada failing international housing obligations (Pivot Legal, February 2016)
    6. Housing need in Canada: Healthy lives start at home (Canadian Paediatric Society, October 2015)
    7. Rental Housing Index (BC Non-Profit Housing Association and VanCity Credit Union, September 2015)
    8. Unpacking the Housing Numbers: How Much New Social Housing is BC Building (CCPA, September 2010)
    9. Homelessness: Clear Focus Needed (Auditor General of BC, March 2009)
  • Crime

    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 overrepresented in Canada’s prison population, and they are also more likely to be victims of crime. Extreme poverty and financial stress can lead to crimes of desperation and/or living in unsafe situations. Extremely low welfare rates lead people to make harmful “choices,” such as staying with abusive partners, resorting to survival sex (trading sex for shelter, for example), panhandling, and stealing.

    Growing up poor is also closely linked to low school achievement and lower literacy rates, and one of the strongest predictors of being incarcerated is low literacy. We all pay for increasing crime in our neighbourhoods, whether it’s through property damage or lower levels of trust and feelings of safety within our communities.

    Let’s get to the heart of the problem and reduce poverty in order to decrease crime associated with poverty and desperation.

    Resources

    1. The Cost of Poverty in BC (CCPA, July 2011)
    2. Kids ‘N Crime: Economic Aspects of the Development and Prevention of Criminality among Children and Youth (The Vancouver Board of Trade and the Justice Institute of BC, September 2010)
  • Health

    Poverty is a fundamental determinant of both physical and mental health. This isn’t surprising, given that living in poverty means you are more likely to live in cold, damp or unsafe housing. You are also more likely to suffer more illness, have a chronic health condition, and die earlier.

    A significant cause of these health problems is lack of food. B.C. is facing a chronic hunger problem and significant food insecurity. After paying for rent, heat and electricity, people with low income have little money left over for food so they are less likely to eat fruit, vegetables, milk products, and other food that provide the nutrients they need for good health.

    Poverty is concentrated in specific populations, such as Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, recent immigrants, lone-mother households and single senior women, so poor health is more likely to be experienced by these groups.

    Addressing long-term health issues associated with poverty adds up to a cost of $1.2 billion a year. Or, in other words, our public health care system could save $1.2 billion a year if poverty reduction initiatives reduced health care costs of the poorest 20% of British Columbians by raising their incomes. By not taking action on poverty reduction, our health care system is overburdened and we all face the consequences of long wait-times, overworked doctors, nurses, and medical staff, and unsafe hospitals.

    Let’s get to the heart of the problem and reduce poverty so that the health care system we, as Canadians, pride ourselves on can be accessible and effective for all.

    Resources

    1. The Cost of Poverty in BC (CCPA, July 2011)
    2. Food Costing in BC 2015 (Public Health Services Authority, February 2016)
    3. Dietitians of Canada BC Submission to the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (Dietitians of Canada, May 2016)
    4. Food Insecurity in Canada (Dietitians of Canada, October 2015)
    5. Housing need in Canada: Healthy lives start at home (Canadian Paediatric Society, October 2015)
    6. HungerCount 2015 (Food Banks Canada, November 2015)
    7. Investing in Prevention: Improving Health and Creating Sustainability (BC Provincial Health Officer, September 2010)
    8. Priority health equity indicators for British Columbia: Selected indicators report (Provincial Health Service Authority, January 2016)
    9. Healthy Futures for BC Families (BC Healthy Living Alliance, September 2009)