New Democrats committed to province-wide poverty reduction plan to address poverty and growing inequality

VICTORIA – A new report on child poverty reinforces the need for a comprehensive province-wide poverty reduction plan to address growing inequality and poverty in British Columbia, say the New Democrats.

“Governments across the country of all political stripes have taken a stand and committed to addressing child poverty by endorsing poverty reduction plans for their provinces,” said New Democrat social development critic Carole James.

“Adrian Dix and B.C.'s New Democrats have made a commitment to B.C. families and communities that we will implement a comprehensive poverty reduction plan, yet the B.C. Liberal government has refused year after year to follow suit.”

In November 2011, New Democrats introduced the Poverty Reduction Act in to the legislature in response to the high percentage of children and individuals living in poverty and the lack of action by government to address the issue.

New Democrat children and families critic Claire Trevena said B.C. Liberal government inaction shows their priorities are in the wrong place as they continually mismanage government resources.

“On the one hand the Liberal government preaches ‘families first,’ and on the other they waste $15 million of valuable resources on partisan pre-election advertising,” said Trevena. “This is money that could have better spent on kids, families and in the community. Frankly, I’m beyond disappointed.”

The 2012 Child Poverty Report Card released Wednesday from First Call B.C. details the negative effect poverty has on children, including higher rates of infant mortality, mental illness, addiction and obesity. The report warns that high child poverty rates and growing inequality threaten the future prosperity of the province.

“The government’s decade-long failure to tackle growing inequality has hurt our province,” said James. “We need to re-focus resources on growing the middle class and creating economic opportunities through education and skills training so we can help British Columbians break out of the cycle of poverty and prosper.”

James noted recent studies have shown that income equality in British Columbia is the worst of all provinces in the country. She said the top 20 per cent of income earners in B.C. hold 44.8 per cent of after-tax income – the most of any jurisdiction in Canada – while the bottom 20 per cent hold the smallest share in the country at just 4.5 per cent.

“First Call’s report really highlights the fact that poverty affects children and families from all walks of life,” said Trevena. “In fact, the report shows that British Columbia currently has the highest poverty rate in the country for children of two-parent families.”

Adrian Dix and B.C.'s New Democrats are offering positive change for British Columbia, and are committed to implementing a province-wide poverty reduction plan and reducing inequality, one practical step at a time.