Liberals fail to make affordability a priority for B.C. families

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VICTORIA— The cancelled fall session means the B.C. Liberal government isn’t in Victoria passing legislation to take real action to reduce poverty and increase affordability for B.C. families on this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, say New Democrats.

“Unlike Premier Clark, families in B.C. don’t have the option of hiding from the issue of poverty and lack of affordability. It’s something they face every day,” said New Democrat social development critic Michelle Mungall. “MLAs should be at work in the capital today tackling issues like poverty and affordability that affect hundreds of thousands of British Columbians. Instead, the legislature has been shuttered by a government that’s scared of facing questions.”

In 1993, the U.N. designated Oct. 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Mungall had planned to use the occasion to reintroduce poverty reduction legislation in the B.C. legislature, something that can’t happen because the B.C. Liberals cancelled the fall legislative session. Mungall noted that eight other provinces and territories have the kind of comprehensive poverty reduction plan with timelines and targets that B.C.’s New Democrats are calling for.

“Under the B.C. Liberals, life is becoming less and less affordable for B.C. families every year,” said Mungall. “In many communities the cost of housing has exploded, utility bills keep rising, and groceries are becoming more expensive, putting a burden on families who are struggling to get by with less job security and stagnating wages. Despite B.C. being one of the most expensive places to raise a family, Premier Clark is failing to make affordability a priority.”

New Democrat critic for children and families, Carole James, said the fact that B.C. has had the worst child poverty rates in the country for most of the last decade should be a wakeup call for the government.

“When we talk about child poverty we must not lose sight of the fact that children don’t live in poverty alone – child poverty is family poverty,” said James.

“More than 30 per cent of food bank users in B.C. are children. These are shameful statistics that are more than numbers. These are children who are struggling, families trying to get by. If we truly want B.C. to be the ‘Best Place on Earth,’ we need a government with a real action plan to reduce poverty and make life more affordable for families.”

B.C.’s New Democrats have previously introduced the Poverty Reduction Act that would set the stage for a comprehensive province-wide poverty reduction strategy that sets out clear targets and timelines to tackle growing inequality in British Columbia.