Poverty Reduction in BC: New Legislation & Next Steps

Last week, our provincial government tabled the Poverty Reduction Act (Bill 39). The proposed legislation uses the Market Basket Measure (which is now Canada’s official poverty line measure) and identifies the following targets—decreasing the overall poverty rate by 25% and the child poverty rate by 50% over the next 5 years.

Under the legislation, the government must release its first poverty reduction strategy by March 31, 2019, focusing on issues such as housing, education, employment, income supports and social inclusion. If passed, the legislation will also require the BC government to report annually on its progress.

First off, I would like to recognize the hard work of everyone involved in the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition for getting us this far. It’s because of their efforts that BC was prepared to take advantage of this opportunity. I also want to recognize the provincial government for their commitment to addressing these significant issues—if these targets are actually achieved, over 130,000 people and almost 50,000 children would be lifted out of poverty.

However, as promising as the Act is, there remain some serious gaps that will need to be addressed. There are no targets or timelines for tackling the depth of poverty or ensuring those most marginalized (for example, those on income or disability assistance) are included in the reduction targets.

The work is not done—more advocacy is needed

In July, I shared a plan and proposal created by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. It is called the ABC Plan because we, and our coalition partners, strongly believe that poverty reduction efforts must be accountable, bold, and comprehensive.

As you can see in the illustration below, the current legislation includes some key accountability measures. But while this piece of legislation is a foundational starting place, we still need to advocate for the bold and comprehensive measures that the forthcoming Poverty Reduction Strategy will require.

You can learn more about the ABC Plan and the coalition’s next phase of advocacy efforts here. They have also updated their online meet your MLA tool and Letter to the Editor tool to help you get involved.

Have your say!

So write your local paper. Get in touch with your MLA. Share this with your staff and volunteers and joins us as we encourage the government to include accountable, bold, and comprehensive measures in the strategy that will be launched in March. If you or your organization need assistance or additional information, please contact Rebecca Lang, The Federation’s Director of Programs and Services.

Help us reduce poverty in BC

557,000 British Columbians living in poverty can’t wait. We need an accountable, bold, and comprehensive poverty reduction plan now.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director