COLUMN: B.C. offers no real help for the poor

True prosperity only exists when every person in society has opportunities.

COLUMN: B.C. offers no real help for the poor

The 2016 provincial budget was introduced last month. While it detailed some positive efforts to provide financial support to important areas, there was an opportunity for the budget to have done more to address social issues.

True prosperity only exists when every person in society has opportunities. Only then can innovation and long-term success be achieved. The budget could also have experimented with initiatives like a basic income guarantee pilot project.

Many British Columbians who live paycheque to paycheque are not seeing prosperity. Unlike elected officials, most British Columbians are not earning six-figure salaries or spending taxpayers’ money on private planes. The premier spent more than $500 000 on private flights in the last five years, information obtained by journalist Bob Mackin under the Freedom of Information Act.

According to Canada without Poverty’s 2015 Poverty Progress Profile on B.C., 469,000 British Columbians live in poverty. Thousands of British Columbians are homeless. Funding for affordable housing units and further financial support to help youth in care, introduced in this year’s budget, is a step in the right direction. However, our province should also introduce a much-needed and long-overdue poverty reduction plan.

Researcher and economist Iglika Ivanova, of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, notes potential areas where the budget could have been improved. These include an increase in the minimum wage and a better child care plan. She notes while steps in the right direction were taken in the budget, such as funding for child care centres and a farmers’ tax credit for food donations, further measures could have been introduced, for example, creating a $10-a-day child care program.

The minimum wage in B.C. is simply not in step with the high cost of living.

Under the 2016 budget, people with disabilities wishing to use bus service will have to pay a $52 monthly bus pass fee, in addition to a $45 yearly fee, starting in September. Previously, they did not pay any monthly fees, rather just the yearly fee. According to Inclusion B.C., the monthly disability benefits are insufficient to meet the high cost of living. The costs of rental housing, transportation and food have seen significant increases over the years.

While the government increased disability benefits by $77 per month in this budget, the bus pass fee means the increase for people using the pass will only add $25 more, leading to a total of $931 per month. The organization notes B.C.’s monthly benefit for the disabled lags behind some other provinces, and prior to this small increase, the government had not increased the benefit amount in nine years.

The government should not impose the monthly bus pass fee. There also needs to be an increase in the monthly disability benefits, so people with a disability are not facing a financial burden.

Japreet Lehal is a Simon Fraser University graduate pursing a law degree. He writes regularly for The Leader.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey School District building. (File photo)
‘We’re in a financial lockdown’: Surrey school district working with $40M budget deficit

District, board points to lack of immigration for new student enrolment

Surrey-raised Tetsuro Shigematsu wrote and stars in “1 Hour Photo,” a Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s production to be presented online by Surrey Civic Theatres on April 23-24. (submitted photo/Raymond Shum)
‘This Japanese kid who grew up in Whalley’ thrilled to return with acclaimed ‘1 Hour Photo’

City’s Digital Stage to show Tetsuro Shigematsu’s solo portrait of Mas Yamamoto

Steve Serbic, assistant chief of operations for the Surrey Fire Service, has written a book, “The Unbroken” delving into his struggles with post-traumatic stress. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey firefighter writes book to ‘be part of the change’ in stigma around post-traumatic stress

‘The Unbroken’ details Steve Serbic’s childhood, career and journey dealing with mental health issues

Everett Cummings in a tribute video posted to dignitymemorial.com.
Mechanic’s death at Surrey dock results in $200K fine for company, union says

Photos of rally outside Surrey court posted on ILWU’s ‘Kill A Worker Go To Jail’ Facebook page

Fish processing workers fillet farm-raised salmon in Surrey B.C. Photo courtesy BCSFA
Discovery Islands salmon farm removal impacts jobs in B.C.’s Lower Mainland: report

The City of Surrey is the hub of the salmon farming industry in Metro Vancouver

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Most Read