For immediate release
March 18, 2019
BC Poverty Reduction Strategy Offers Initiatives That Will Help Lift Families Out of Poverty
(Vancouver) Today, government released BC’s first ever poverty reduction strategy TogetherBC setting out a number of strategies and initiatives aimed at meeting legislated poverty reduction targets including a 50% reduction in the child poverty rate by 2024.
“First Call is pleased to see several significant initiatives like the B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit – a benefit first announced in the 2019 Budget – re stated in this plan,” commented Adrienne Montani, First Call’s Provincial Coordinator. “We know this benefit will make a real difference for many families when it begins in 2020 and it’s something we’ve been calling for.”
We are also encouraged by other recent government initiatives including the ChildCareBC programs, BC’s housing plan and increases to the minimum wage that will all help to lift families out of poverty. Knowing how poverty disproportionately affects Indigenous children, youth and families in BC we are pleased to see the stated commitment to “addressing the ongoing symptoms of colonialism.”
While the Plan does not include needed raises to income and disability assistance rates, it signals a number of administrative policy changes that should make it easier for families to qualify for and access social assistance when needed.
Some of these changes include
- modernizing the definition of spouse to align with other benefits;
- removing the limit on the number of housing security deposits people can access;
- eliminating the ”transient” category to make it easier for people without a fixed address to receive support;
- raising asset limits to allow people to keep their vehicles and a higher amount of cash assets; and
- expanding hardship assistance in emergencies.
First Call recognizes BC’s new Poverty Reduction Strategy, with its legislated goals and timelines, is an important and historic first step towards building a more equitable province with fewer families and children living in poverty.
At the same time, there are important areas missing from the Plan including affordable public transportation (specifically free transit for minors and low-income individuals), measures that would alleviate food insecurity
and adequate assistance rates to address deep poverty.
“As a member of the Minister’s Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee that was announced today,” commented Montani. “I look forward to advising government and providing my honest assessment of how they are doing on reducing poverty and improving the lives and health of BC’s children, youth and their families.”
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