BY B.C. PREMIER JOHN HORGAN
B.C. has the highest poverty rate in the country. Right now, 678,000 people in B.C. are living in poverty, of those people 118,000 are children in low-income families, and about 64,000 are seniors.
Too many people are struggling to make ends meet, earn a decent wage, or find affordable housing. Too many families and children are suffering without basic necessities, and too many seniors are unable to live out their remaining years in dignity.
In a province as prosperous as ours, poverty and inequality on this scale should never be tolerated, but for years the B.C. Liberal government refused to take action. The wealthy and well connected came first, while people paid the price.
We’re getting to work to fix the problems caused by years of neglect, to lift people out of poverty, and make life better and more affordable for people across B.C.
Despite persistently high rates of poverty, under the previous government B.C. remained the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction strategy.
While the cost of living skyrocketed income assistance rates were frozen for 10 years. One of the first steps we took as government was to provide immediate relief to the most vulnerable by raising income assistance and disability rates by $100 per month, but there is much more to do.
We committed to delivering a government that works for people, to tackle poverty in B.C. and make life more affordable. As part of that, this week, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Shane Simpson, announced our plan to develop a comprehensive Poverty Reduction Strategy for B.C.
Minister Simpson named experts who will participate in an Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction and invited people across B.C. to join in creating B.C.’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy.
The advisors bring a diversity of experience and backgrounds to the table, and represent the perspectives of people with lived experience, poverty advocates, Indigenous peoples, academics and experts, and the labour and business communities. They will work together with the government to identify underlying causes of poverty and recommend effective solutions.
The announcement also marks the beginning of the Poverty Reduction Strategy engagement process, along with a website where people across B.C. can contribute their thoughts on how to reduce poverty.
To share your experience, ideas, and input to help shape the Poverty Reduction Strategy, go to: engage.gov.bc.ca/bcpovertyreduction/.
We’re listening to you, and taking action to make life better for you and your family. And in the weeks and months ahead, we’ll do even more to make life more affordable, improve the services people count on, and create good jobs for people throughout B.C.
Together, we can help lift people out of poverty, build a better life and a better B.C.