Poverty reduction strategy brings relief to province, more needed to adequately prepare for future

March 18, 2019

VICTORIA, B.C. — British Columbia's first poverty reduction strategy, TogetherBC, is a first step towards reducing poverty in the province, but the B.C. Green caucus knows that real income security will only come from a more innovative transformation of the income security system to address the challenges and opportunities inherent to a rapidly evolving economy.

B.C. Green Caucus was consulted by government on this shared goal of creating a poverty reduction strategy as committed to in the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

"We welcome the steps this government is taking towards reducing poverty and inequality in BC," said MLA Sonia Furstenau, spokesperson for Social Development and Poverty Reduction.  "As MLA for Cowichan Valley, I've seen firsthand the impacts of child poverty. Thirty one percent of children in Duncan are living in poverty, according to BC Child Poverty Report Card, and I particularly welcome the target to reduce child poverty by 50 percent. We must do all we can to give children the foundation they need to live happy, healthy lives.

"However, while we welcome these steps, the B.C. Greens believe we must do much more to support British Columbians as they navigate this changing economic landscape.

"The shifts we are seeing towards precarious work, and the looming threat of automation, require that we modernize our social support system to ensure we are providing real income security for British Columbians in this new era."

The B.C. Greens campaigned on the need to transition to liveable incomes, through establishing a Fair Wages Commission to advise on how to close the gap between the minimum wage and a living wage, and through implementing a basic income pilot.

"We are seeing a huge rise in part-time and contract work, and many people are suffering from job insecurity and lower incomes due to lower wages and fewer hours. The federal Finance Minister even told Canadians to get used to 'job churn'- short-term, contract-based employment and a number of career changes in one's lifetime. These trends require us to rethink and modernize our approach to combating poverty and income insecurity. For example, raising the minimum wage is not an adequate answer to reducing working poverty today, given the changing conditions of the world of work. A higher minimum wage alone fails to provide financial security to those faced with precarious jobs in contract work and for those with fewer hours.

"We must also rethink our approach to how to measure economic vitality on a macro level.  We must measure what matters, which is why my B.C. Green colleagues and I are excited about developing a genuine progress indicator for B.C. that will allow us to measure critical indicators that point to the true health of our province in addition to our economy, such as school graduation rates, quality of life and other factors. By factoring in overall health and well-being, GPI will give us a more accurate picture of the B.C. economy. Until we are measuring for outcomes that we want to see, we are going to have a difficult time making truly informed decisions about how to get there."


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