VICTORIA— With three recent reports showing that British Columbia continues to have persistently high child poverty under the Christy Clark government, New Democrats are pressing for their poverty reduction legislation to finally be passed.
“New Democrats have introduced legislation for a poverty reduction plan four times, yet each time the Liberals have ignored it,” said New Democrat social development spokesperson Michelle Mungall.
“One in five children live in poverty in British Columbia according to First Call’s annual report card released today, yet we remain the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction plan because of Christy Clark’s partisan politics.”
Mungall noted that the recent Food Banks Canada Hunger Count shows that food bank usage is at an all-time high this year. Another recent report, the BC Non-Profit Housing Association’s Rental Housing Index, shows that B.C. is at crisis levels of unaffordable housing.
Families being hit the hardest by poverty are single-parent families. Half of children in single parent families, mostly headed by single mothers, are living in poverty.
“Government policies can either reduce this poverty or increase it,” said Mungall.
Mungall pointed to the Christy Clark government’s decision to claw back maternity leave benefits from parents who receive disability assistance as an example of the kind of policies that worsen poverty and would change with a poverty reduction plan.
“If we had a poverty reduction plan in place it would quickly become obvious that taking away maternity leave benefits from new parents with disabilities is not just mean-spirited, but it increases and deepens poverty,” said Mungall.
Since Christy Clark became premier the only concentrated action taken by the government to address poverty was a failed pilot project in seven communities, causing the Union of B.C. Municipalities to withdraw their support.
“Christy Clark has an abysmal record when it comes poverty reduction,” said Mungall. “B.C. families deserve better.”