While the findings of a new government report on poverty — housing is expensive, wages are low, and families struggle to feed their kids — may be predictable, the extent of these challenges across so many B.C. communities is an eye-opener, says the politician in charge of making this province more affordable.
“There is often a focus on Metro Vancouver, South Island, urban areas, and this report clearly identifies that issues of poverty and people struggling with the vulnerabilities of that is provincewide. It’s an issue in communities where it may seem invisible,” Shane Simpson, Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister, said in an interview Thursday.
“(The report) talks about the numbers of people who are looking for an opportunity to change their circumstance, and dismisses what at times has been a past view that people chose poverty … But in many cases they can’t even see the pathway forward to be able to (leave poverty). They are struggling with the hard work it is to live poor.”
The 60-page report, “What We Heard,” was released Thursday after members of a government-appointed advisory forum gathered input between October and March from 5,000 people about living in poverty.
At 28 community meetings and 100 small-group discussions, forum members were told housing — not necessarily owning a home, but having a safe, secure place to rent — was by far the biggest concern.
“In every part of the province, people spoke up about how high housing costs limit people’s opportunities and forces people to cut back on food, turn down the heat, and live smaller, more isolated lives,” the report said.
The report does not, though, include any recommendations for change or any estimates on how much it will cost to reduce poverty in B.C., the only province in Canada without an official poverty reduction plan.
Simpson said his ministry will table legislation in October with targets and timelines for a plan, and that the money will be allocated in the February 2019 budget.
“We’ve been creating this problem in B.C. for a very long time, and we will not solve it in a year. We know that it is going to take some time,” Simpson said, when asked if his ministry could be moving more quickly.
“I’ve heard the frustration from people who are looking for a quick fix, a quick resolve on some of these issues, — and I get it entirely — but I do feel the …read more
Source:: Vancouver Sun – Politics