April 25, 2013
Contact: Craig Spence

Green Party of BC calls for Guaranteed Livable Income to eliminate poverty

Media Release
April 25, 2013
Green Party of BC

Victoria - "It's time to eliminate poverty," BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk said today. “Families and individuals caught in the cycle of poverty have not been offered hope or a fair share in our province's wealth. The only way to really eliminate poverty is by instituting a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI).”

"The time for incremental changes is over," Sterk adds. “Currently, we are just tinkering with systems that actually keep people impoverished. Our current strategies are about reducing poverty by one percent, or moving from last to fifth place compared with other provinces. Many people in poverty come from homes that have been impoverished for generations. It is a multi- and inter-generational issue. Many of the most impoverished are First Nations people.”

A GLI would put more money into the new economy and would be funded for the most part by taking money out of the old economy - bureaucracy spent in keeping people impoverished, policing, health care, child welfare, some professional poverty activists. One million dollars a day is spent in the Vancouver Downtown East Side with no appreciable impact on poverty. Forty-thousand dollars annually for each child in care. This needs to change.

A Guaranteed Livable Income would also be graduated - very few people would be completely subsidized. It would also be coupled with services designed to transition people so they become capable of supporting their families without the subsidy within a relatively short period of time.

Sterk noted that the cost of GLI would be offset by reorganizing dozens of programs within multiple ministries that make up the present inefficient, patchwork system of addressing poverty issues. As well, studies have shown that medical costs, legal and policing costs and a multitude of other societal impacts due to poverty would be lessened if a GLI were implemented.

Green Party of BC MLAs in the Legislature will introduce a bill, or support one, to establish an expert commission to study how a Guaranteed Livable Income can be implemented in BC.

“This would be a major undertaking - but it is to solve a major problem. To truly deal with poverty, we need to rethink our strategy.

"A Guaranteed Livable Income will position families and individuals who are now trapped in poverty to participate in the economy. They will be able to afford training; to look for work, instead of struggling just to pay the rent and line up at the food bank; to buy basic necessities that will allow them to participate wholly in our society.

"This is not only about raising the standard of living for those currently trapped in the cycle of poverty," Sterk said. "This is about improving the quality of life for everyone."


For more information:
A fact sheet on GLIs included on the following page. See the Green Party of BC policy on Helping Families at Risk & Reducing Poverty.

Photo Available 

Media Contact:
Craig Spence
Green Party of BC Media Relations
250-208-3825 | [email protected]



Fact Sheet 
Guaranteed Livable Income

Conservative Senator Hugh Segal:

"We spend billions on programs that address dropouts, reduce substance abuse, assist young people in trouble with the law, encourage nutrition, subsidize housing, provide safe houses for the victims of family violence, run the Children’s Aid, realign incentives in the tax system for the working poor, support First Nations education and fund micro-managing welfare systems that do not bring anyone above the poverty line. And yet the core number at 10 percent or above, depending on the province or region, has not changed in decades. It is time to look seriously at a guaranteed annual income."

From Segal's calculations some of the economics of implementing a GLI are as follows: 

  • Health expenditures reduced by 8%
  • Prison costs reduced by 5% 

From the Cost of Poverty report for Ontario: 

  • Poverty has a significant cost for governments. The federal and Ontario governments are losing at least $10.4 billion to $13.1 billion a year due to poverty, a loss equal to between 10.8 to 16.6 per cent of the provincial budget. 
  • Poverty has a cost for every household in Ontario. In real terms, poverty costs every household in the province from $2,299 to $2,895 every year. 
  • Poverty has a very significant total economic cost in Ontario. When both private and public (or social) costs are combined, the total cost of poverty in Ontario is equal to 5.5 to 6.6 per cent of Ontario’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • The annual cost of child or intergenerational poverty is very high. If child poverty were eliminated, the extra income tax revenues nationally would be between $3.1 billion and $3.8 billion, while for Ontario, the additional (federal and provincial) taxes would amount to $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion. The total economic cost (private and social) of child poverty Ontario is $4.6 to 5.9 billion annually. 
  • Opportunity costs or lost productivity due to poverty has a great economic cost. Federal and provincial governments across Canada lose between $8.6 billion and $13 billion in income tax revenue to poverty every year; in the case of Ontario, Ottawa and Queen’s Park lose a combined $4 billion to $6.1 billion.  (Note: BC's economy is 12.35% of total Canadian GDP which means the cost of poverty to Bc is between $1 and $1.6 billion.) 


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