|Monday afternoon, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice delivered a speech |
related to Bill 39, the NDP Government's Poverty Reduction Act
Bill 39, the NDP government's Poverty Reduction Act is making its way through the final stages of Legislature oversight before approval and on Monday, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice made for the last of the debate on the topic, rising in the housing late in the afternoon to deliver some of her final thoughts on the bill and the issues of poverty that led to its creation.
As part of her overview of poverty in the province, Ms. Rice shared the highlights of what the NDP government plans to do about Poverty reduction, a presentation to the Legislature mixed in with some partisan commentary aimed at the previous Liberal government.
With the MLA observing that it was the 16 years under B.C. Liberal leadership of ignoring and underfunding social programs which has led to B.C. having the second-worst poverty rate in Canada
Ms. Rice also put some focus on the situation in Prince Rupert and the North Coast, making note of the levels of poverty that exist here and the loss of jobs in the fishing industry which have exacerbated the situation among those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum.
My hometown of Prince Rupert has the dubious distinction of being one of…. Well, it's tied with two other communities as being the poorest in British Columbia. The North Coast regional district as well as the Prince Rupert school district are also often listed as amongst the poorest in our province.
In January, the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction hosted a poverty reduction strategy meeting in Prince Rupert. It was one of the largest forums held, with over 150 people in attendance, from all walks of life — from people who were thrust into poverty when the pulp mill closed to people who'd lost their lifelong jobs working at the cannery.
We even saw working poor, who were there trying to offer solutions to this long-ignored problem. Imagine with over 150 people in attendance from all walks of life — from people who were thrust into poverty when the pulp mill closed to people who lost their lifelong jobs working at the cannery. We even saw the working poor, who were there trying to offer solutions to this long-ignored problem. Imagine that. Working multiple jobs, living paycheque to paycheque and still taking time to offer solutions at a forum.
To address the issues of Poverty, Ms. Rice outlined some of the elements Bill 39 that she believes the NDP government's bill will work towards improving conditions through wage increases and social assistance concerns.
That's why we're developing B.C.'s first poverty reduction strategy. We're going to join the rest of the country in actually developing a plan that helps those in British Columbia who have been left behind. This legislation is a turning point for our province.
Our government has already taken bold steps to address low wages, through the Fair Wages Commission. It can no longer be the Wild West where wages race to the bottom. The Poverty Reduction Strategy Act is a historic step that sets out bold poverty reduction targets.
Our government is already working to make people's lives more affordable by cutting MSP premiums, upping the disability and social assistance rates and helping parents with lower-cost child care.
Other areas that the North Coast MLA highlighted in her address were some of the housing initiatives that the NDP government have launched, in particular their work in modular home placement for the homeless, as well as a number of the investments that the government is making towards adult education.
The government blue print on delivering its Poverty Reduction Strategy has a pair of ambitious targets, with plans to lower the overall poverty rate by 25 percent over the next five years and lower the child poverty rate by 50 percent.
Following Ms. Rice's commentary on the bill in the Legislature, the debate related to it was closed, with Bill 39 now moving on to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration later today.
You can review the full text of Ms. Rice's speech in the Legislature from the Hansard transcript for the Monday afternoon session starting at the 16:50 mark of the proceedings.
Ms. Rice posted the commentary from the Legislature to her Facebook page on Wednesday.
Some background on Bill 39 can be reviewed here.
For more items of interest related to Ms. Rice's work in the Legislature see our archive page here.