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

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

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

Politicians want Surrey’s Civic Distinction Awards done ‘virtually,’ not postponed

City staff recommended they be put off to the fall of 2021 because of the pandemic

Illegal suite a concern for Cloverdale man

Despite a City-issued stop-work order, construction continues

Surrey Mounties need help to find missing woman

Hasheena Mundie, 25, was last seen at about 4:20 pm on August 4, in the 16700-block of 61 Avenue

Volunteers counted 644 homeless people in Surrey over 24 hours in March

Data collected helps governments and community agencies help the homeless

Surrey councillor calls for ward system

‘Surrey is ripe for a ward system now,’ Councillor Doug Elford says

BREAKING: Reported stabbing in Harrison Hot Springs

Police chase ran through Agassiz, witnesses say

B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

Fraser Valley Bandits clinch first round bye with win

Bandits defeat Guelph 84-70, advance to the CEBL semifinals on Saturday

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Maple Ridge firefighting camp empowers young women

Camp Ignite to take place at Justice Institute on Sunday, Aug. 9

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

Most Read