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 second 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 557,000 people in BC living below the poverty line – 99,000 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 557,000 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’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction was appointed in October 2017. The members bring a broad range of expertise to their roles and will provide their insights and guidance to the Minister as the Poverty Reduction Strategy is developed.
The Advisory Forum will support the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction by:
- Identifying causes of poverty and innovative approaches to poverty reduction;
- Recommending priority actions and principles for the Poverty Reduction Strategy that governments and all sectors of society can collectively work on and support;
- Discussing ideas for poverty reduction generated through the consultation and engagement process;
- Offering expertise and advice on how best to implement the Poverty Reduction Strategy in the context of other government priorities;
- Working within communities to encourage full participation in the Poverty Reduction Strategy; and
- Providing advice on legislation, including targets and timelines.