Victoria, B.C. - The combination of a low minimum wage, high cost of living, inadequate social assistance, and lack of well-paying jobs has resulted in widespread poverty across British Columbia - the only province without a poverty reduction strategy.
Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, recently said he didn't see the need for a poverty reduction strategy.
“It is outrageous. Comments like these show how out of touch the B.C. Liberals are with the issues facing every day British Columbians,” said Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party. “They are more interested in building an economy that supports their corporate donors than they are building one that supports the British Columbians that they are elected to represent.”
“The B.C. Liberals have spent 16 years claiming they need to grow the economy before they can deal with poverty. Our economy has grown, and yet British Columbia continues to have one of the highest poverty rates in Canada. Their trickle-down approach to poverty reduction is not working and they have no plan to fix it,” said Weaver, the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
The BC Liberals’ jobs plan does not come close to addressing poverty in BC. 55,000 jobs have been created since last October, but 75% of these jobs (41,000) are part-time positions.
“The creation of part-time precarious work does not amount to a poverty reduction strategy and it does nothing to help struggling families in B.C.”
Food bank use is at an all-time high in BC: 103,400 people used food banks in March 2016, according to Food Banks Canada's annual HungerCount report. Children made up almost a third of that number. This makes 2016 the 3rd year in a row that food bank use has increased. Charities are left with the responsibility to fill the gaps left by government inaction: people are relying on charities to meet their essential needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
“I personally know of a growing number of students who use food banks because they can't afford to live,” said Weaver.
The unprecedented rate of food bank use in BC today speaks to the utter failure of the BC Liberals to promote economic growth in a way that serves British Columbians, and not just corporations. BC has one of the highest levels of poverty in the country, with between 11-16% of adults and 16-20% of children living in poverty, depending on the measure used.
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Mat Wright, Press Secretary, Office of Andrew Weaver, MLA
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