Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


June 3, 2011

Bill M216 — Poverty Reduction Act, 2011

S. Simpson presented a bill intituled Poverty Reduction Act, 2011.

S. Simpson: I move this bill be read for a first time now.

Motion approved.

S. Simpson: This bill is intended to put in place a legislated poverty reduction strategy for British Columbia. This legislation will establish a minister accountable for poverty reduction in our province and will mandate that minister, following a comprehensive consultation process, to report to the Legislature with accompanying legislation to put a comprehensive plan in place that includes identified targets and timelines for poverty reduction.

This legislation will also require that a representative advisory committee be established to support this poverty reduction strategy and that the minister report annually to the House on the progress that is being made on this plan.

This is a critical and overdue initiative for British Columbia. As a province we continue to have the worst levels of child poverty and overall poverty in Canada. Over 500,000 people in British Columbia live in poverty, and 120,000 of those are children, more than 11 percent of our total population. As a result, British Columbia has over the past decade become the most unequal province in our nation. This inequality must end, and this poverty reduction act is a step in that direction.

Seven other provinces of all political stripes have moved forward with similar strategies, yet B.C. has steadfastly refused to either provide meaningful supports or to be held accountable for helping the poor.

Poverty reduction is not an easy thing to do. It is not without costs, but in a civilized society, in a society as wealthy as ours in British Columbia, it is imperative that we do all we can to break this cycle of poverty and, in particular, do all we can to make sure that our children have real opportunity.

This is about families. It is about children, seniors and the disabled. It is about women escaping violence. It is about aboriginal people in our communities. It is about our brothers and sisters, our parents and our neighbours.

It is about strategies in the areas of income, housing, child care, education, training and health. It is about the government being the catalyst to help build the partnerships with the non-profit sector, business, academia, social justice groups and other levels of government.

I move that the Poverty Reduction Act be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Bill M216, Poverty Reduction Act, 2011, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today

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