(Victoria) — After a decade of BC Liberal inaction, it is time our province developed a comprehensive strategy to combat poverty and
reverse B.C.’s shameful record on child poverty, the highest in Canada for the past seven years, says BC NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth.
“In a province blessed with so much wealth and potential, British Columbia’s growing inequality and high poverty rate is shameful,” says Farnworth. “The BC Liberals have repeatedly ignored calls for a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy while our province’s record on child poverty became the worst in Canada for seven straight years. As leader of the BC NDP I will ensure that inaction stops. An NDP government under my leadership will develop a broad-based strategy with legislated targets to reduce family and child poverty.”
Farnworth says his first move would be to appoint a single cabinet minister that would report directly to the Premier’s Office and have responsibility for the planning and implementation of a family and child poverty reduction strategy.
“A single minister accountable for the reduction of poverty will enable government to pull resources together from different
ministries, community groups, the business community, and non-profits.”
Mike Farnworth’s strategy to reduce family and child poverty includes:
• Appointing a cabinet minister with the authority and responsibility to set and achieve legislated poverty reduction targets.
• Raising the minimum wage to $10.00 an hour and index it to cost of living increases and eliminating the $6 an hour training wage.
• Expanding child care and early learning programs so all children get the same advantages to succeed in school.
• Reducing homelessness with firm action targets for new units of social housing and better supports of short-term shelters, funded by the province’s housing trust and reporting to the Legislature annually.
• Reviewing categories of Income Assistance rates within the context of the poverty reduction plan and immediately linking current rates to inflation.
• Lowering barriers to post-secondary education, apprenticeships, and training programs for families living in poverty.
• Restoring supports to single parent families, increasing Income Assistance-to-Work supports and earning exemption allowances to help transition people from welfare to work.
• Protecting children-at-risk through immediate investments in child protection services and enhancing support for the transition to First Nations’ aboriginal child welfare.
• Reducing Community Living waitlists, to help some of BC’s most vulnerable adults and their families get adequate care.
“Protecting the most vulnerable people in our province is a moral, social, and economic imperative,” Farnworth concludes. “For every child that lives in poverty, there is a family struggling to get by. Leaving those families behind hurts our economy, our communities, and future generations.”
David Murray is the Federal Candidate for the NDP in Abbotsford.
His is the Political Columnist for the Today Online News. He can be reached by email : DavidMurrayabbotsfordndp@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter : David Murray4NDP