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NDP Proposes Poverty Reduction Strategy While Liberals Continue Failing

VICTORIA – Following First Call’s 2011 Child Poverty Report Card that shows the Liberal government has failed over half a million British Columbians living in poverty, the New Democrats renewed their call for the province to move forward and support the Poverty Reduction Act .

“British Columbia has had the worst child poverty rate in the country for eight years in a row and the highest poverty rate in Canada for more than a decade,” said New Democrat leader Adrian Dix. “Seven other provinces and territories have either committed to or have enacted a poverty reduction strategy yet, the Liberals have neglected to take action to break the cycle of poverty here in B.C.”

First Call’s report shows that B.C. weighs in well above the national child poverty rate of 9.5 per cent, with an increase from 10.4 per cent in 2008 to 12 per cent in 2009. Up substantially from last year’s report, the number of poor children living in families with at least one adult working full-time, rose from 38.5 to 48 per cent. The rate of poverty for children living in new immigrant households rose to an astounding high of 49.6 per cent. There are now more than 100,000 children living in poverty with the poorest 50 per cent of families receiving less than one-quarter of all the total personal income in B.C.

New Democrat critic for social development Shane Simpson reintroduced the Poverty Reduction Act in the Legislature Wednesday, calling on the Liberal government to address the urgent need for a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.

“Minister after minister has refused to take action on poverty. It is time for someone to show leadership on this issue,” said Simpson, the MLA for Vancouver-Hastings. “I strongly urge the Liberal government to move forward with a poverty reduction plan that would improve the lives of half a million British Columbians.”

Simpson says the report clearly shows that under the Liberal government, more children and families are living in poverty.

“Growing inequality remains a serious problem in B.C.,” said Simpson. “We live in an increasingly polarized province where the gap between the rich and the poor is growing and life is not getting better for thousands of British Columbians who live at or below the poverty line.

“If the Liberals are serious about putting families first they will implement a legislated approach to poverty reduction with clear targets and timelines as seven other provincial projects have done.”

First Call’s 2011 Report commends the New Democrats for tabling the Poverty Reduction Act in June 2011 and criticizes the Liberal government for resisting calls to follow the lead of Liberal, Conservative and NDP governments elsewhere in Canada.

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