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BC Budget Media Release: BC Budget 2019 Brings Financial Relief for Low-income Children, Youth and Their Families


Media Release

For immediate release

February 19, 2019

 

BC Budget 2019 Brings Financial Relief for Low-income Children, Youth and Their Families

 

(Victoria, BC) First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition applauds the Provincial Government for significant improvements to the child tax benefit announced in today’s budget.

The new BC Child Opportunity Benefit will greatly assist low-income families by increasing the benefit amount and extending it to families with children up to the age of 18. First Call has been calling for improvements for many years in our annual Child Poverty Report Card. This means BC will be in line with child benefits in other provinces.

“We know this improved benefit will provide a financial lift to families living in deep poverty,” commented Adrienne Montani, First Call’s Provincial Coordinator. “While we would like it to kick in earlier – October 2020 is a long time for children to wait – over the long-term this is an important measure to reduce income inequality and deep child and family poverty.”

Over time, we would like to see the low-income threshold ($25,000) where the benefit begins to diminish, raised to ensure the full benefit is available to more low-income families.

First Call is also pleased to see other initiatives in this budget including:

  • continued investment in developing a universal child care system
    • we encourage government to ensure accountability by directing investments into public and not-for-profit child care providers
    • further, at a minimum, government should ensure that child care professionals earn a living wage
  • increasing rates for foster parents
    • this is long over-due and an important investment in the most vulnerable children and youth
  • supporting kin-ship care givers by providing financial payments that match foster parents’ compensation
    • this will reduce the number of children coming into government care due to family poverty
  • eliminating interest on student loans
    • this will alleviate the record-high student loan burden carried by some parents raising children
    • in the long-term, government should lower tuition fees and increase grants
  • investments in health care for women, children and newborns
    • while details were not provided, we encourage government to increase access and lower barriers for prenatal courses and support for parents of newborns
  • greater investment in PharmaCare and the full elimination of MSP premiums (a regressive tax) by 2020
    • we encourage the government to work towards universal dental and vision care – particularly for low-income families
  • changing the definition of common-law to align with family law
    • this will assist single mothers on social assistance who have been forced into economic dependency on a partner

We’re disappointed to see no substantive increase in social assistance rates. We urge government to better support individuals living in deep poverty by raising the rates for social assistance.

We note $3 million is earmarked for “transformation of the employment standards branch.” We urge government to act in this legislative session to protect children and youth from work-related exploitation and injury by reforming child employment standards and ensuring adequate enforcement.

For more information or interviews contact: Helesia Luke helesia@firstcallbc.org | 778-858-0553