Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

BC needs poverty-reduction targets: CCPA

With British Columbia holding the dubious distinction of having both the highest wealth and poverty rates in Canada, a report released yesterday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives calls on the provincial government to start setting some ambitious targets to reducing poverty.

A five-year project by the CCPA and Simon Fraser University, A Poverty Reduction Plan for B.C. offers more than 50 recommendations for the government to follow. Some of the key items in the report’s plan include: raise the minimum wage to $10.60 an hour; raise welfare rates by 50 per cent; build 2,000 units of social housing per year; and provide universal publicly-funded child care.

Just as important, the report says B.C. needs to follow the lead of other provinces, such as Ontario and Newfoundland, and set timelines for the targets. It claims the province can reduce the poverty rate by one-third within four years, eliminate deep poverty (those living 50 per cent below the poverty line) in two years and end street homelessness by five years.

“You want to have it so that year-in and year-out the public can assess how progress is going and the government can announce what additional measures it’s going to take to get on target,” says Seth Klein, CCPA-BC director and co-author of the report.

While Klein admits implementing all of the report’s recommendations would cost an untold amount of billions of dollars and require the province to go into deficit, he says once fully implemented, the plan would only cost the between $3-4 billion a year.

And even though Finance Minister Colin Hansen has said the global financial crisis is expected to cost B.C. more than $3 billion in revenue over the next three years, the report insists a poverty reduction plan is more important than ever.

“If the province finds itself in recession, the unemployment rate will increase and we risk a higher poverty rate, making the need for action that much greater,” the report states.

Klein adds that investing in poverty programs will save the province billions in the long run. He points to an SFU report called Housing and Supports for Adults with Severe Addictions and/or Mental Illness in B.C., which showed that the average homeless person costs the province $55,000 a year, while providing the adequate housing and support would only cost $37,000 a year.

Emboldened by a recent Environics poll, commissioned by CCPA, that found 77 per cent of British Columbians feel that in the face of a recession, governments should focus even more effort on supporting the poor, Klein expects poverty to be a major issue in the next provincial election.

Sean Condon is the editor of Megaphone Magazine.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus