MLA Greg Kyllo states that B.C. is enjoying a time of remarkable growth for which he credits the BC Government’s Jobs Plan (Shuswap Market News, Feb. 10).
What he fails to mention is that B.C. has the second highest poverty rate in Canada, and B.C. is the only province without a poverty reduction plan.
A recent report, co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the United Way of the Lower Mainland, and the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, finds that measures of severe hardship such as food bank use and homelessness have continued to climb.
Income for those on social assistance is not just below the poverty line, but thousands of dollars below it.
Someone working full-time year round at the minimum wage of $10.85 per hour earns about $3,500 a year less than the poverty line for a single person.
Families are struggling to make ends meet with rising housing costs, childcare fees, hydro rates, and food costs.
The social safety net is broken throughout the province, says the report, and the B.C. economy loses $8 to $9 billion annually paying for the costs of poverty.
The report refutes the common misconception that the poor should simply “get a job.” The BC government, which stubbornly refuses to develop a poverty reduction plan, claims to be addressing poverty with its Jobs Plan. It’s not working. B.C. needs to rebuild the social safety net through a poverty reduction plan.
Effective poverty reduction plans have been developed in Canada and internationally. Since 2008, more than 400 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of British Columbians have signed the Call for a comprehensive B.C. plan with legislated targets and timelines. Investing in a poverty reduction plan is the best investment we could make for our future. It’s time for action!