Government “Job Plan” Not Enough
The government’s focus on a Job Plan as a solution to poverty is simply not enough. Most people living in poverty already have a job, and many more are two pay cheques away from being in poverty.
The increased minimum wage of $10.25 an hour still does not lift workers above the poverty line and, despite a growing economy, the average income in BC has not increased since 2008.
And the system isn’t helping. In BC, the tax breaks that the top 1% of households received over the last 10 years have put $41,000 per year back in their pockets, more than double the yearly income of a full-time minimum wage worker. We need a good jobs plan.
Those British Columbians on income assistance are working hard just to survive, struggling to meet the most basic needs of shelter and food. Welfare rates are deeply inadequate at $610 for a single “employable” person and $906 for a person with a disability. These rates have been frozen since 2007 so inflation eats away at what is already a subsistence income. We need a welfare system that helps people get back on their feet.
The problem is not just low incomes but also lack of public services. For our families, our communities, and our province, we need a comprehensive poverty reduction plan, which would raise incomes as well as provide more social housing, universal child care, support for training and education, and more access to prevention and community health care.
BC is now one of only two provinces left in Canada without a poverty reduction plan. Other places are saving lives and money by tackling poverty directly. It’s time BC did too.