Any successful Poverty Reduction Plan must address the structural barriers that lock groups (such as Aboriginal people, people with disabilities (including mental illness), recent immigrants, refugees and temporary foreign workers (including farm workers and live-in caregivers), single mothers, queer and trans people, and single senior women) in consistently high poverty rates. This month, we’re highlighting some of the many discriminatory structures that stratify our society and need to be addressed to build a Poverty-Free BC. We also share the exciting community-led actions and initiatives that are already taking place to make change in these areas.
People with Disabilities
May 29th to June 4th was Disability Awareness Week. We helped coordinate an Open Letter calling on Premier Clark to Raise the Rates, Leave our Bus Pass Alone. The Open Letter is an urgent call to action by more than 160 provincial and local community groups across BC who strongly oppose the changes to the BC Bus Pass Program and Special Transportation Subsidy and believe its long past time for the BC Government to raise Persons with Disability Rates (PWD).
Help us keep the pressure up:
- Join over 15,000 people and sign the petition
- Add your organization to the list of signatories of the Open Letter
Join BC ACORN on June 28th at 1 PM at MLA Suzanne Anton’s Office (2607 E 49th Ave, Vancouver) for the latest action in the province-wide campaign to raise social assistance rates and restore the PWD bus pass.
Poverty is an LGBTQ Issue
Queer and trans people face a high level of poverty and marginalization, yet these communities have previously not been included in initiatives trying to address poverty. So we created a short (12 mins) video as a first step in making the issue visible. Under the Rainbow combines the story of a local Surrey youth kicked out of their home with analysis of the root causes of queer and trans poverty in BC. If you’re interested in showing the film in your community, please email Viveca to make a booking.
In 2007, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations filed a complaint alleging that the federal government’s provision of First Nations child and family services was discriminatory pursuant to the Canadian Human Rights Act. On January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) found that each of the federal government’s funding approaches to child and family services were discriminatory and ordered the federal government to immediately cease its discriminatory practices. Read the full First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada information sheet here.
The CCPA recently released Shameful Neglect: Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada, a report calculating child poverty rates in Canada, including the rates on reserves and in territories—something never before examined. The report finds that the worst child poverty is experienced by status First Nation children (51%, rising to 60% for children on reserve).
On June 4th, the Single Mothers Alliance of BC and Women Transforming Cities (both members of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition) organised #EmpoweredMothers: Balancing Kids & Community Involvement, an event bringing together moms with all levels of experience as social organizers to hear speakers and participate in roundtable discussions. In an interview with the CBC, Erin Arnold and Sammy Jo Rumbaua, two of the organizers and speakers, discussed how “single mothers, impoverished mothers and mothers of equity-seeking groups have an even harder time joining the political sphere” and the need for affordable and accessible childcare.
Children & Youth in Care
June 6-12 is BC Child and Youth in Care Week. “Join me in standing behind our youth, celebrating who they are and creating the expectation that they will be supported the same as other children,” said the Representative for Children and Youth in her statement for the Week. Fostering Change has a developed a campaign for those who believe that youth aging out of foster care should be able to count on three things until age 25: consistent financial support, long-term relationships with caring dependable adults and a chance to connect and contribute to their communities. Take action and sign the Write the Future petition.
The perspectives of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) are not being fully included in the current review of the TFW Program. To highlight the urgent issues that the review should cover, Migrante BC and others held a press conference on June 1st, highlighting the need for permanent residency, open work permits and the end to the deportation of TFWs after four years in Canada. Take action against discrimination against migrant workers.
The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition advocates for a poverty reduction plan that guarantees access to income assistance for all regardless of citizenship status. Learn more about Sanctuary City principles which ensure access to services for all and without fear. Ask your workplace, community or faith-based groups, and any service providers you know to endorse the principles and commit to working towards them.
1 in 3 single seniors in Vancouver live in poverty. According to the CCPA, over the past thirty-five years, successful social policy has lowered Canadian seniors poverty considerably below child poverty and working-age poverty; however since 1997, rates have started to climb again. Learn more from the Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of British Columbia including at the upcoming September 25-26 conference, “Aging Well – A Quest for All.”
On June 9th, Canada Without Poverty released their new guide for ending youth homelessness with a human rights framework: Youth Rights! Right Now! Ending Youth Homelessness: A Human Rights Guide. Every day dedicated policymakers, educators, social workers, volunteers and young people are improving the lives of homeless youth. To help with this important work, this guide brings human rights to the forefront of decision making with an aim to assist in the identification of systemic causes of homelessness and human rights solutions.