Child Poverty in BC is a Crime That Must Stop



When people think about Victoria, BC, they associate it with incredible seaside views, mountains, a laid-back lifestyle, and lovely homes. All of these things are true. Southern Vancouver Island is truly a scenic gem on this planet.

What they don’t think about are the incredible extremes between the poor and the wealthy existing here today. Walk the downtown core of Victoria – we have panhandlers on every other street corner, drug-addicted people retreating into doorways and concrete nooks. Transients coming here because it’s warmer, it’s relatively safer, and there are many social services for the homeless and those living well below the poverty line.

Standing at the busy intersection of Douglas and Fort Street, you see well-dressed, well-fed adults walking about in their designer clothes, wearing one-way sunglasses so you can’t see their eyes. The scene looks like a 21st-century adaptation from a 19th-century Charles Dickens novel, only the streets are cleaner, people aren’t openly drinking and urinating in public (but you can still smell it some places), and the only horses in sight are the ones pulling shiny carriages for visiting tourists.

What you don’t see are the many poor working families struggling to try and get by in a region that’s increasingly expensive. The BC provincial government gladly gives billion dollar tax credits and six figure patronage perks for non-existent LNG initiatives, but it won’t significantly raise social assistance rates or disability rates to a level where people with children could afford to give them a better life.

What is so wrong about providing free day-care for every child in British Columbia? What is wrong about providing a guaranteed monthly basic income for adult British Columbians? What is wrong about providing free tuition for going to college or university in BC? What is wrong about paying a livable wage of $15 hourly, instead of the currently abysmal $10.45?

There is nothing ‘communist’ or ‘socialist’ about these ideas. We live in an economically prosperous society. But I believe this prosperity is funnelled to a small group of people at the expense of the greater BC public. We should be using this wealth for the benefit of future generations, not hoarded by the privileged few. Of course, if you live at a gated property in the Uplands, or occupy the top floor of a waterfront luxury condominium in the Inner Harbour, you’ll probably have a very different point of view.

Every time I see Premier Christy Clark proudly declaring how she’s all about helping families and creating a better life for all British Columbians, I throw up a little in the back of my throat. The Premier has lived her adult life among BC’s business, media, and political elites. She lives in the rarified atmosphere of BC’s one percent crowd. I am not at all convinced that she understands what it’s like to fall into poverty through no fault of your own. Considering that she assisted the BC Liberal Party in fundraising approximately $70 million dollars from large corporations and businesses from 2010 to 2015, you can see where her loyalties lie.