British Columbia

Legislation for B.C.'s poverty reduction strategy expected next year

Advocates have long called for a plan to help the 700,000 people who currently live in poverty in B.C. — including more than 120,000 children.

Minister has appointed 27 people from variety of backgrounds to advise on poverty plan

Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson says 27 advisers have been appointed to shape legislation on a poverty reduction strategy for B.C. Mable Elmore, the parliamentary secretary for poverty reduction (right) and Dawn Hemingway, chair of UNBC's school of social work (left), will co-chair the advisory group. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

The B.C. government plans to introduce legislation in the spring to create a poverty reduction strategy. 

Advocates have long called for a plan to help the nearly 700,000 people who currently live in poverty in B.C. — including more than 120,000 children.

"It was a strong commitment in our platform that we would move forward with a poverty reduction strategy in British Columbia," said Shane Simpson, B.C.'s minister of social development and poverty reduction.

The legislation will include targets and timelines that will be drawn up with the help of a group of more than two dozen advisers from a variety of backgrounds, Simpson said.

Dawn Hemingway, chair of the school of social work at the University of Northern British Columbia, will co-chair of the advisory group along with Mable Elmore, the parliamentary secretary for poverty reduction.

'Long overdue'

"In my view this effort is long overdue and I am confident that we have the collective will to make sure this happens," Hemingway said.

Engagement meetings will also be held in 20 B.C. communities and there will be an online consultation for the plan.

"I look forward to hearing from British Columbians from all walks of life and also from all regions of the province," Hemingway added.

B.C. is the only province without a legislated plan to lift people out of poverty even though it has one of the highest rates of working poor in the country.

The previous Liberal government argued a formal plan was not necessary because it was addressing poverty through initiatives such as job creation and supports for individuals.

A pilot project to experiment with a basic income may also be part of the poverty reduction strategy, Simpson said.

The poverty reduction legislation is not expected before the next budget, but Simpson says that budget will still address some of the factors that contribute to poverty such as housing and childcare costs. 

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