BC’s plans to tackle poverty
By Tania Arora, Staff Reporter
October 17 was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
This year marked the 25th anniversary of this day’s designation in 1992. The theme was set by United Nations as “Coming together with those furthest behind to build an inclusive world of universal respect for human rights and dignity.”
In the month of October before International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the provincial government tabled the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act. After years of waiting, this is the first official strategy aimed at tackling poverty by the BC government.
According to the report released by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, the initiatives of the act must aim to reduce the overall poverty rate by 25 percent and the child poverty rate by 50 percent within a period of 5 years starting January 1, 2019. Certain provisions will be available to low-income British Columbians, Indigenous people, and other intersections of marginalization. The Government of Canada as well as Indigenous and local governments will be supporting the initiatives of the act. An annual report will be made containing the plans, execution strategy, effects, and progress to monitor the implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Canadian citizens will have the right to see the report, as it will be accessible to the public. The government will also have an advisory panel, at least half of which will be women and people from each and every community. Initiatives related to the strategy will be carried out only after consultations with the panel.
Trish Garner, Community Organizer for the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC), said in a press release that the act was a good first step towards addressing poverty in BC, but could be better.
“The legislation is the foundation of a poverty reduction strategy,” said Garner. “While this Act hits many accountability measures, there are gaps. We hope these gaps can be filled through a bold and comprehensive poverty reduction plan, and we encourage the general public to continue to advocate to the government as they develop the plan to be launched next year.”
The BCPRC press release also stated that if the proposed act were to succeed, it would change the lives of 140,000 British Columbians currently living in poverty. Of these 140,000 people, 49,500 would be children.
Poverty isn’t just a small issue which exists in itself—it branches out to affect many other aspects of life. It leads to myriad world problems which won’t be solved in a fraction of a second. Years and years of planning, execution, and work are needed to lessen the impact of the issues or eradicate them entirely. This Poverty Reduction Strategy Act was put forward by the government but there are many other tools which citizens can use to overcome these issues. Sponsoring children, projects, communities, and making donations are few examples. One single step can make a huge difference.