Where’s the Plan British Columbia and Saskatchewan?

Canada Without Poverty has long been discussing the need for a Federal Anti-Poverty Plan to address the needs of people living in poverty from coast-to-coast. But in reality provincial and municipal governments also have a responsibility to address poverty. Eleven out of thirteen provinces and territories have completed the first step in doing this by drafting and implementing anti-poverty plans. So, who are the two provinces lagging behind? Any guesses?

The answer is British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

This seems surprising doesn’t it?

While Saskatchewan has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, 64% of First Nations Children living in the province live below the poverty line. Saskatchewan has no plan to address the needs of these individuals. In BC, one of the richest provinces in Canada, 10.7% of the population, or 476,000 British Columbians, still live in poverty. How can a provincial government claim to represent their constituents when they are not addressing the needs of more than 1 in 10?

The good news is that change is coming. Community activists in both provinces are stepping up to demand their provincial governments establish a plan to address poverty!

In Saskatchewan, members of organizations including the Saskatchewan Anti-Poverty Coalition and Upstream, have recently launched the poverty costs campaign to raise awareness about the true cost of poverty and provide a venue to voice their support for a comprehensive poverty reduction plan. The campaign highlights the $3.8 billion cost for incidental social service use and missed economic opportunities each year in Saskatchewan.

Poverty advocates in British Columbia have also remained vocal. Trish Garner, the Community Organizer with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, recently spoke about the lack of a plan in BC on the Rabble.ca podcast The F Word. Garner pointed out that the focus of the BC government continues to be on a jobs plan rather than a poverty plan. As she explains, most poor people are already working, what the province needs is a more comprehensive poverty plan.

Garner also pointed out that in May, NDP MLA Michelle Mungall brought forward a private members bill, Bill M212, to address poverty. Although there are no specific recommendations about what the government should do to address poverty, the bill does includes some accountability measures (including targets and timelines) and would use community consultation in creating the plan.

As we push for an anti-poverty plan on the national scale, we’re grateful to friends and colleagues who are pushing for poverty plans in the two missing Canadian provinces.

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