VANCOUVER B.C. - Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, announced the party’s income security strategy today in Vancouver. The strategy, entitled Covering the Basics, includes measures to support low income British Columbians and transition the province towards a status quo of liveable incomes for all.
“We have a mounting problem of inequality in this province,” said Weaver. “Much of the wealth increase over the past few years has gone to the already-wealthy, while many struggle to make ends meet. We have seen a rise in child poverty and in the use of food banks.
Meanwhile, the world faces massive shifts like automation, technological innovation and the rise of the gig economy that place more British Columbians at risk of losing their livelihoods. Only bold leadership and forward-thinking changes, informed by a commitment to a more equitable future, will enable B.C. to weather these changes.”
Key measures of the Covering the Basics Strategy include:
1. Beginning the transition to liveable incomes with an increase in Persons with Disabilities (PWD), income assistance and shelter allowance rates. Rate increases by 10% effective October 1, 2017, rising to 50% above the current level on April 1, 2020.
2. Introducing a basic income support for youth aged 18 to 24, who are transitioning out of foster care, at an estimated cost of $60 million per year.
3. Drawing on experience in other jurisdictions to design a basic income pilot to test whether giving people a basic guaranteed income is an effective way to reduce poverty, improve health, housing and employment.
4. Establishing an arm's-length fair wages commission, that will be tasked with establishing a new minimum wage and overseeing regular rate reviews. The commission will bring forward recommendations regarding strategies to address the discrepancy between minimum wages and liveable wages.
5. Working with the Federal government to provide a Low-income Benefit of up to $205 per month for low income families.
6. Rolling Medical Service Plan (MSP) premiums into the payroll tax and personal income tax to ensure that they are administered in a more equitable and progressive manner.
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