Province needs a plan on poverty

I hope the government will support our bill or present their own and the Opposition will be the first to congratulate them if they do

Thank you for the recent editorial regarding the Community Social Planning Council’s Action Plan on Poverty and its endorsement by all 10 of our south island MLAs and MPs.

The editorial noted the Select Standing Committee on Finance, with Liberal and NDP representation, also recommended a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.

I’m a member of that legislative committee, along with other NDP MLAs Lana Popham, Mike Farnworth and Mable Elmore. It was a gratifying experience to hear from citizens across B.C. regarding budget priorities,and to compile a consensus report with 63 recommendations, including poverty reduction.

However, it must be recognized the NDP Opposition and non-government groups like the Social Planning Council and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have been advocating a poverty strategy for years. And for years, the issue has been ignored by the provincial Liberal government, even though B.C. has had the highest child poverty rate in Canada for a decade.

Non-partisan consensus on poverty and other issues is important and I believe  elected representatives at all levels have a responsibility to work across partisan lines, particularly at the local level.

But in a parliamentary democracy, government makes the final call and up to now this government has decided that a province-wide poverty strategy is not a priority. The NDP will soon table a private member’s bill that would establish a poverty action plan.

I hope the government will support our bill or present their own and the Opposition will be the first to congratulate them if they do. But we will also hold them to account in the most vigorous way possible, if they once again ignore the moral and economic imperative of addressing this longstanding issue.

Gary Holman, MLA

Saanich North and the Islands

Sidney