Election Eve: BC Political Parties Respond to the CCPA Poverty Reduction Campaign
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is part of the BC Poverty Reduction Committee, which has been steadily gathering steam as we get closer to the election. There are now 281 organizations signed on to the open letter to BC political parties. The campaign has been calling for all the parties to agree to implement legislated targets and timelines for poverty reduction if they are elected. On May 1, the committee posted responses from the three major parties on the BC Poverty Reduction website, at http://bcpovertyreduction.ca/?page_id=522. Please visit the site to check out what the Liberals, NDP and Greens have to say about their plans to reduce poverty. You’ll find a detailed analysis of each party’s position as well as a table that compares the three parties. Briefly, their positions are:
The BC Liberal Party does not commit to a poverty reduction plan with clear targets and timelines. The Premier has written, “the Province of British Columbia has made promising steps to address the challenges associated with poverty and we are working on additional measures to put together a comprehensive plan to continue moving forward.” The closest the Liberal platform comes to suggesting a real target is in the area of homelessness, in titling the one-page policy section on housing, “Ending homelessness with new solutions.” The section describes various initiatives to date. But this goal of ending homelessness is not linked to clear timelines.
The BC New Democratic Party platform does commit to “Developing a poverty reduction plan with targets and timelines that build on our initiatives that will raise the minimum wage, support jobs and skills training, increase affordable housing, improve child protection and change income assistance.” This is good news. However, the NDP plan does not specify what the poverty reduction targets and timelines should be (presumably this would be determined after the election), nor does it say if such targets and timelines would be legislated (which is key to accountability). The NDP commitment with respect to homelessness is more concrete. Their plan commits to “Ending the crisis in homelessness in 5 years.”
The Green Party has included poverty reduction as a priority in their platform, British Columbia’s Green Book: “The Green Party understands that immediate action is needed to ensure every British Columbian has a meaningful opportunity to share in the wealth of this province.” The key goals of their plan include ensuring British Columbians can all meet their basic needs, and “reversing the trend towards greater disparity between rich and poor.” Additionally, in the area of housing and homelessness, the Green Party has committed to “safe and affordable homes” for everyone living in BC. As the Green Party is not contesting government, they have not costed out their policies.