TogetherBC – B.C.’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy
- British Columbia has one of the highest rates of poverty in the country and has for decades; it has the second-highest overall poverty rate in Canada.
- About 40% of people living below the poverty line are working.
- C.’s child poverty rate is above the national average, with approximately 99,000 children living in poverty in B.C.
- Children who live in single-parent families are more than three times more likely to live in poverty than children in two-parent families.
- Together BC identifies the work going on across government. More than 15 provincial ministries have programs and funding in the plan.
Legislated Targets & Timelines
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, which embedded the poverty reduction targets and
timelines in law, was passed unanimously in November 2018.
The Act requires government to reduce the overall poverty rate by 25%, and the child poverty rate by 50% by 2024, using 2016 as the baseline.
- A Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee has been appointed to advise the minister on matters relating to poverty reduction and prevention.
- This advisory committee includes advocates, experts, Indigenous peoples and people with lived experience from around the province.
- This committee also serves an important oversight role. Under the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, government is required to report out on progress to reach its five-year targets each year, starting in 2020. The committee will include a letter in each of these reports, outlining its views
- Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction on progress made and progress required.
TogetherBC ties together actions government has taken to increase affordability, increase
access to opportunity and reduce poverty since 2017, under six priority areas:
- affordable housing
- supports for families, children and youth
- expanding access to education and training
- more opportunities for people
- improving income supports
- investing in social inclusion
- 290,000 families will receive extra support from the new BC Child Opportunity Benefit. Families with one child will receive up to $1,600 per year, those with two children will receive up to $2,600 and those with three children will receive up to $3,400. The new benefit will support children up to the age of 18 years. With the highest benefits going to the families most in need, the B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit will lift thousands of children and their families out of poverty.
- More than 400,000 people, including more than 150,000 people living below the poverty line, will benefit from increasing B.C.s minimum wage to $15.20 by 2021; harmonizing minimum wage rates for people in the service industry and increasing the minimum wage for farm workers paid by piece rate by 11.5%.
- Over 80,000 families will benefit from the Affordable Child Care Benefit, the Child Care Fee Reduction and the creation of new licensed child care spaces throughout the province. Nearly 27,000 families with incomes under $45,000 a year will eventually pay little or nothing for child care, contributing to both the overall and child poverty reduction targets.
- 195,000 people who rely on income and disability assistance will benefit from an $1,800 annual rate increase, higher earnings exemptions, expanded crisis supplements and the elimination of mean-spirited policies that hold people back, like ending the requirement to apply for early Canada Pension Plan retirement pension.
- Building on the success of the Rapid Response to Homelessness, the Office of Homelessness Co-ordination was formed to move beyond reactive emergency responses to homelessness and toward a co-ordinated, effective approach that focuses on prevention.
- Improving access to quality, affordable dental care through a $3.6-million grant to the BC Dental Association to help not-for-profit clinics purchase equipment and provide more services to people in need.
- An expert committee is studying the potential to use a basic income approach to reduce poverty and prepare for technological change and the emerging economy. The committee is overseeing research to assess the feasibility of a basic income for B.C. and how basic income principles might be used to improve the existing income and social support system. It will submit its recommendations to government in 2020 to inform the next steps in poverty reduction.