The New Democratic Party of BC has initiated the first step in the creation of a poverty reduction plan that will put children and families first.
"Seven other provinces and territories have either committed to or have enacted a poverty reduction strategy, yet despite having the highest poverty rate in Canada, the B.C. Liberals have neglected to take action in B.C. to break the cycle of poverty," said Shane Simpson, the New Democrat social development critic.
Simpson will introduce the Poverty Reduction Act on Thursday afternoon, challenging the B.C. Liberals' political will to legislate change and improve the lives of half a million British Columbians.
"The need for a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy is becoming more urgent every day with over 11 per cent of British Columbia's population living in poverty," said Simpson, the MLA for Vancouver-Hastings. "Minister after minister has refused to take action on poverty. It is time for someone to show leadership on this issue - I challenge the B.C. Liberals to take action and move forward with a poverty reduction plan."
Simpson says the act is an initial move toward a long-term strategy in areas of income, housing, child care, education, training and the social determinants of health.
"In addition to the actions laid out in this act, there are immediate steps the B.C. Liberals could take to alleviate the deep poverty that some British Columbians are living in," said Simpson. "For example, the minimum wage should immediately be tied to the rate of inflation."
"We have an obligation to take the steps necessary to reduce poverty and to create opportunities for greater prosperity," said Simpson. "We have an obligation to identify strategies to accomplish these objectives and to put them at the forefront of public debate and ultimately to legislate those strategies and put them into action."
"It's shameful that we've had the highest child poverty rate in the country for the past seven years," said Simpson. "It is imperative our children have the resources necessary that provide real opportunity."
"This is about families; it's about children, seniors and the disabled. It's about women escaping violence. It's about aboriginal people in our communities. It's about our parents and our neighbours."
Simpson says community consultation will be a necessary component to creating a poverty- reduction strategy.
"It's essential a poverty- reduction plan invite broad consultation to set out clear goals, improve specific supports and provide services for families living in poverty," said Simpson. "The government must show initiative to help build the partnerships with the non-profit sector, business, academia, social justice groups and other levels of government.
"British Columbia over the past decade has become the most unequal province in our nation. This inequality must end and this Poverty Reduction Act is a key step in that direction. We cannot be a truly prosperous province without equality."
This article is a press release from the NDP.