To the editor:
Poverty is a reality in our communities, but there is something we can do to change that.
A poverty reduction plan is a real step to improves people’s lives and strengthen our economy. That’s good for everyone.
For the past 13 years British Columbia has had the highest overall rate of poverty in the country. Over the past decade, it’s had the worst child poverty rate.
B.C. is also the only province in the country without a plan to reduce poverty.
The B.C. Liberal response to this situation has been to say they care, but do nothing. They tell people to just get a job, then they not only fail to offer the training needed to get those jobs, they offer those jobs to foreign workers under exploitative conditions. This isn’t right.
For some, a disability or mental illness prevents them from working, and then there is the fastest growing segment of people living in poverty – the working poor. Low wages mean they struggle to afford basic costs of living.
In fact, 42 per cent of British Columbians say they are living paycheque to paycheque, and would struggle if their pay was delayed by even one week.
Jobs are most definitely not a simple solution in these cases. We need to be looking at the bigger picture – at the cost of housing, the cost of food, the cost and accessibility of training, and wages and working conditions. We need a plan.
New Democrats know that we can do better in B.C. That’s why we recently put forward legislation that would bring in a poverty reduction plan for our province.
But we can’t pass it alone. The B.C. Liberal government needs to sign on.
If you feel that this is an important issue, I hope you will write your local MLA, and ask them to join the rest of the country with a plan to reduce poverty.
Michelle Mungall, BC NDP
Social development spokesperson