Victoria Aims to Legislate Poverty Reduction Plan by Next Spring says Minister
Prince George, B.C. – British Columbia remains the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction plan – but that will soon change.
B.C.’s Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson made the comment while on a visit to Prince George today. He said his goal is to have one legislated next year.
“I’m consulting right now with a number of organizations, including the business community, labour, academia, stakeholder groups, social justice organizations around the issue,” he told 250News.
“We’ll do that work and then legislate in the spring with clear targets and timelines. A transparent reporting system that reports to the legislature on an annual basis.”
Simpson says a big part of the plan will include creating affordable housing province-wide.
“If you want to break the (poverty) cycle, it’s about housing and making housing available for people to meet that need. It’s also about providing educational opportunities for people to upgrade their skills to move forward.
“It’s about mental health and addictions for people who are struggling. It’s about health care and justice issues. It’s also about collaborating with other governments – I’ve already reached out to the federal government to make sure space and land is available for that.”
He said the government has started making strides by raising the minimum wage earlier this month and by creating the Fair Wage Commission to figure out the timeline for gradual increments up to their promised $15 an hour.
Simpson said the purpose of this visit today was two-fold – to meet with ministry staff in the city and garner feedback – and to meet with organizations in the community who are working with vulnerable people to get a better sense of what the situation is like here.
According to the government, there are about 678,000 people living in poverty in B.C. – about 15 per cent of our population. More than 20 per cent of those people are children.