What is the poverty reduction strategy?
Poverty affects everyone – seniors and children, families and individuals. It affects those who don’t work and those who do. Its impact can be felt in our communities and throughout our province.
B.C. has the highest rate of poverty in Canada and the B.C. Government is taking action to address this. The first step is to develop and implement a province-wide poverty-reduction strategy, with established targets and timelines.
Understanding poverty in British Columbia
Using the Market Basket Measure there are approximately 678,000 people in BC living below the poverty line – 118,000 are children. The Market Basket Measure for singles is approximately $20,000 a year, and for a family of four about $40,000 a year.
Of the 678,000 people, around one quarter receive income and disability assistance and another 8% receive federal disability benefits. Approximately 9% are seniors and close to 40% are working adults earning below the poverty line.
Those numbers only tell part of the story. The depth of poverty in BC has increased over the last 10 years as people struggle to deal with increasing costs for basic goods and services such as rent and food.
- Housing prices in BC are the highest in Canada — $725,000 compared to the national average of $504,000. Rental costs in BC are also the highest in Canada, along with the lowest rental vacancy rate in the country. Homelessness is also increasing. More than 3,600 people are currently homeless in Metro Vancouver region, up 30% from last count in 2014.
- Basic utility costs have increased. The average hydro bill is up $419 per year since 2011.
- Childcare costs in BC have increased by 35% since 2007. The median monthly childcare fee is $1,325 in Vancouver.
- Food costs are also high – a family of four requires $11,900 a year to purchase nutritious food. Food bank usage is also rising – 103,000 people were assisted in March 2016, and 33,000 of those were children.
- The current minimum wage of $11.35 is about half the living wage (depending on which community you live in). An individual working full time for a full year at the minimum wage would still have an after-tax income that is $1,500 below the Market Basket Measure.
Minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction
The Minister has appointed a Minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction, individuals from a cross section of sectors and with knowledge and experience to inform this process.