I read “Poverty of Politics Continues”, in which Tom Fletcher criticized the 2012 Child Poverty Report Card both for containing a “familiar script” of recommendations and for using what he views as an inaccurate tool to measure the extent of child poverty in BC.
As an anti-poverty lawyer, Mr. Fletcher’s editorial concerned me. First, he is right that many of the Report Card recommendations have remained the same over years, but that is because little progress has been in many of the areas.
Second, even if Mr. Fletcher’s opinion that the current tool to measure poverty is inaccurate, I fail to understand why we should dismiss the recommended solutions because we don’t know the exact extent of the problem.
We can see many of these issues through simple common sense. For example, a single person on temporary welfare gets $610/month to cover all basic living costs and a single person with a severe disability gets $906 (almost two-thirds of total income assistance cases are in the disability category). Average rent for a bachelor apartment in B.C. is almost $800. It’s clear that people cannot survive on current assistance rates.
Finally, aside from the basic dignity issues raised by Mr. Fletcher’s suggestion that poor people move out of urban areas to reduce their costs, I will just note that many essential services for a person trying to survive on the above rates, like subsidized housing, food banks, accessible infrastructure, and specialized medical care, are easier to access in urban areas.
My desire to see B.C.’s poverty rate decline has nothing to do with a desire for “big government.” I would rather live in a society that supports all of its citizens and doesn’t leave many of them behind.
It’s time for a meaningful public discussion about solutions.
(raised in Sooke)