TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

The poverty rate in B.C. is among the worst in Canada. Too many people are struggling to make ends meet, earn a living wage, or find and keep affordable housing. Too many families are suffering without basic necessities, relying on food banks, going hungry or sending their children to school hungry. In March 2019, the Province released TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. TogetherBC sets the Province’s path to reducing overall poverty by 25% and child poverty by 50% in five years.

B.C. is studying a basic income approach to reduce poverty.

The Province appointed an expert committee in July 2018 to understand how offering basic income to eligible people could reduce poverty in B.C. and help break the cycle for people who are struggling to get by.

“Basic income” refers income payments provided to eligible people unconditionally by government. Basic income can be delivered through direct payments to people or through the personal income tax system.

Organizations and individuals with an interest in basic income were invited to share their input between November 15, 2018 and March 15, 2019. The consultation process is now closed and feedback will be used to support the expert committee’s research.

It’s time to lift people out of poverty.

As a first step, the B.C. government raised income assistance and disability rates by $100 per month to help people who need it most. This was only the beginning. There’s more to do. One of the critical next steps is to build and implement a province-wide poverty reduction plan with targets and timelines.

British Columbians shared their input on B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:

A consultation report “What We Heard About Poverty in B.C.” was released on July 12, 2018. This report includes a summary of the feedback we received through the engagement as well as supplemental reports from the First Nations Leadership Council, Metis Nation BC, the Social Planning and Research Council of BC, and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.

The Poverty Reduction Strategy Act became law in Fall 2018. The poverty reduction strategy will follow in early 2019.