Support a Legislated Poverty Reduction Act in BC

BCPIAC Letter in Support of a Legislated Poverty Reduction Act in BC

May 14, 2014 | Erin Pritchard

Honourable Christy Clark, MLA
Premier of British Columbia
PO Box 9041 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9E1

Re:      Bill M212 – Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act

Dear Premier Clark:

We write to urge you to support Bill M212: Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act, introduced on May 6, 2014 by NDP MLA Michelle Mungall.

BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre (BCPIAC) is a non-profit, public interest law office that provides representation to groups that would not otherwise have the resources to effectively assert their interests.  As we represent the interests of marginalized people in British Columbia, we have a strong interest in seeing the government take a sincere approach to addressing poverty in the province.

The time for a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy in British Columbia is long past due.  As one of the last two provinces without a poverty reduction strategy, BC has also had the highest rate of poverty in Canada for the last 13 years, and the highest rate of child poverty for the past ten years.  This level of income inequality is unacceptable in a province as wealthy as British Columbia.

It is insufficient to claim that “growing our economy” is the best way to lift people out of poverty.

It is insufficient to claim that “growing our economy” is the best way to lift people out of poverty. Focusing solely on assisting people into the workforce provides no relief for people who are unable to work, such as those with prolonged illness or severe disabilities. It also fails to recognize the multitude of barriers in addition to unemployment (and precarious employment) that lead to poverty and keep people there (i.e. discrimination, low literacy levels and language barriers, lack of affordable housing, single parenthood, etc.). The proposed Bill recognizes the need to address impediments to employment for people living in poverty, but acknowledges that this is not a comprehensive solution.

By requiring a strategy that includes specific and legislated targets and timelines, as well as provisions for monitoring and public reporting on progress, the proposed Act provides a framework for developing a concrete path to economic inclusion.  Bill M212 also sets out requirements for meaningful consultation with the community and calls for “special attention to the views of those living in poverty”; this is critical to ensure that any actual measures are informed by those the strategy is intended to assist.

We trust that the government will agree that poverty is a complex multifaceted issue that requires a broad, sincere, and immediate response.  We ask you to take this opportunity to show leadership on this issue, and support Bill M212.

Sincerely,

BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre

Erin Pritchard
Barrister & Solicitor

c:
Hon. Don McRae, MLA, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation
Hon. Stephanie Cadieux, MLA, Minister of Children and Family Development
John Horgan, MLA, Leader of the Opposition
Michelle Mungall, MLA Nelson – Creston
Sam Sullivan, MLA Vancouver – False CreekBC Poverty Reduction Coalition

Support a Legislated Poverty Reduction Act in BC
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