We call on the Government of British Columbia to launch a comprehensive and accountable poverty reduction plan with legislated targets and timelines aimed at dramatically reducing homelessness and poverty in our province. (This short funny video highlights the importance of setting targets.)
We are ashamed of the levels of poverty and homelessness in a society as wealthy as ours. At 11.5%, BC has the highest poverty rate in Canada. Yet BC is one of only two provinces left without a comprehensive poverty reduction plan.
We know that all of us pay for poverty. We pay in increased health care costs. We pay in higher crime. We pay in higher demand for community, social and charitable services, as well as lower economic productivity. People who are poor get sick more and die earlier, and poor children may not reach their full physical and social developmental potential.
Paying for the negative effects of poverty costs much more than dealing with it directly. Let’s stop mopping up the floor and fix the hole in the roof.
To effectively combat poverty and inequality in BC, a poverty reduction plan must be comprehensive and include raising income assistance rates and the minimum wage, as well as providing public goods, such as social housing, universal child care, improved access to training and education, and enhanced health care.
If we commit to a bold plan, a dramatic reduction in poverty and homelessness within a few short years is within reach. Together we can make a difference!