The BC Federation of Labour congratulates the BC government for its commitment to developing a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy for the province of British Columbia. BC has lagged behind other Canadian provinces in tackling this issue. The evidence is clear: our failure to act has had a significant toll on individuals and our communities. A comprehensive poverty reduction plan will reduce unnecessary human suffering, strengthen our communities and support a strong economy.
We believe that an effective plan must be cross-ministerial, have legislated targets and timelines, and at its foundation value the human rights of all members of our communities. A good poverty reduction plan is an investment in our communities and has an upstream benefit leading to better educational, health and economic outcomes.
As members of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, we echo the recommendations outlined in their submission to the Poverty Reduction Task Force. We believe the government must take action in seven policy areas:
- Increasing income assistance
- Improving wages for BC’s lowest income earners
- Providing quality, affordable and accessible childcare
- Developing a housing strategy that ensures every British Columbian has a safe place to call home
- Investing in the education and training of our residents
- Building a public health care system that addresses the needs of the whole person
- Eliminating barriers to make our communities equitable for everyone
The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition has set out detailed recommendations for each of these areas. Therefore, below we are providing further comments on a few of those areas specific to our work.