British Columbia’s first poverty reduction strategy, TogetherBC, outlines programs and initiatives that will help reduce overall poverty in the province by 25%, and cut child poverty in half, over the next five years.
“Together, we can build a fairer province by bringing down barriers and giving people the services and supports they need to break out of the cycle of poverty,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “TogetherBC is our roadmap for a better British Columbia, where everyone, regardless of their background or income, is treated with dignity and has access to opportunity.”
Using a 2016 baseline, the strategy aims to lift 140,000 people out of poverty, including 50,000 children. Further poverty reduction goals will be established as these targets are met.
Developed with feedback received through an extensive provincial consultation, the strategy is anchored by a number of key initiatives including the new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit and Childcare BC, as well as other actions that will increase household incomes.
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
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 on progress made and progress required.
“People created poverty, and it’s up to people to solve poverty,” said Sarah Brownlee, a member of the committee. “I have experienced poverty first-hand, I have seen my friends and family experience it and I have seen the destructive consequences of lack of opportunity and access. As the poverty reduction strategy moves forward, I will be making sure that the voices of those with lived experience are represented and heard.”
Written and released by BC Government.