A tent city was set up outside Prince Rupert City Hall two weeks ago. The tents were a visual reminder for residents just how prevalent homelessness is in the city. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Province seeks public opinion on poverty

The Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction is travelling across B.C.

More than 150 people gathered to hear and share experiences with the provincial government about poverty in Prince Rupert.

The North Coast city was the first of 22 stops for 2018 for poverty discussions held across the province. On Jan. 11, MLA Jennifer Rice introduced Shane Simpson, the minister of social development and poverty reduction, to the crowd at the Nisga’a Hall.

The community meetings have been set up by the ministry and the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC) to hear directly from affected people for a poverty reduction strategy.

“B.C. is the only province in Canada that doesn’t have a [poverty reduction] strategy, and we’re changing that,” Shane Simpson said.

“In British Columbia, we have about 678,000 people living in poverty. That’s 15 per cent of the population of the province. Here in Prince Rupert, the numbers are even tougher,” Simpson said. “One in five kids are poor. If you’re disabled or Indigenous, you’re twice as likely to be poor than anybody else. The challenge is over 40 per cent of the people who are living poor in this province have a full-time pay cheque coming into the house. They are the working poor.”

READ AND WATCH: City to receive 44 units for homeless, and the search for an emergency shelter

He said the process will take time as the ministry determines what issues take priority and how best to address the feedback they receive. Some issues Simpson said they’ve heard include the need for affordable housing.

In a Facebook post the day after the discussion, MLA Jennifer Rice wrote that some of the subjects raised included tenancy issues, mental health support, food security, childcare, transportation, community support and systemic racism and multi-generational poverty.

“Our commitment is that everybody in this province has value, and everybody should be heard and people living poor certainly have a right to be heard in solving the challenges that they face every day,” Rice said.

Lara Therrien Boulos, one of the SPARC researchers hired by the ministry, said, “These meetings are really centred on creating safe environments for people to share their ideas, perhaps share stories. We understand there are some regional differences and experiences are going to be different across the board.

“I think that it’s really important for people to have a chance to be heard in a meaningful way, to feel supported in sharing their stories and to know that this is going to inform hopefully action moving forward that will change these experiences for the better and lift people out of poverty,” Therrien Boulos said.

The next two public poverty discussions in Northern B.C. were in Terrace and Smithers on Jan. 12 and 13.

READ MORE: Tents raised outside city hall to draw attention to homelessness



keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Jennifer Rice and Shane Simpson spoke at a poverty discussion in Prince Rupert on Jan. 11 (Keili Bartlett / The Northern View)

Just Posted

Winter road maintenance standards boosted

Quicker response times to be implemented

Web Poll: Should B.C. have the same Family Day as the rest of Canada?

B.C. government to move the February holiday from the second week to the third week

Indigenous language app launched in Northern B.C.

Learning Sm’algyax with the help of a new website in Prince Rupert

RCMP briefs: Break-in at Port Edward store, multiple assaults in Rupert

Several people were arrested between April 9-15

Police say no foul play in house fire that claimed the life of a 77-year-old woman

A tragic death such as this affects the entire community, said Prince Rupert RCMP

Charles Hays student wins Pacific Northwest Regional Science Fair

Grade 12 student Maria Levkovytska will make the trip to Ottawa to showcase her project

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Builder of Kinder Morgan reinforces concerns over project

B.C. heads to court over pipeline jurisdiction as builder says doubt warranted

Health committee cheers idea of national pharmacare program, but cost an issue

Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu says she fears costs could be far higher than $19 billion

Canada’s oldest blood donor says it’s all gain, no pain after decades of giving

Great-grandmother and Coquitlam, B.C., resident has been donating blood since the late 1940s

Union says Trump bullying threatens hundreds of B.C. pulp mill jobs

Fear mounts that new U.S. anti-dumping duties could price Catalyst mills out of business

B.C. real estate regulator to undergo NDP review

B.C. real estate agents were self-regulated until 2016, when BC Liberals appointed superintendent

B.C. pizza shop broken into 4 times in 2 weeks

A Vernon business owner is beginning to feel targeted

Man accused of Abbotsford school stabbing hearing voices, intensely paranoid

Lawyer says Gabriel Klein not fit to stand trial in May because of deteriorating mental state

Most Read