MLA Mable Elmore, Social Development Minister Shane Simpson and UNBC social work professor Dawn Hemingway announce public consultation on a poverty reduction plan, Oct. 30, 2017. (Black Press)

B.C. poverty reduction starts with committee

28 members, budget of $1.2 million for consultation

The B.C. NDP government has launched its long-promised project to create a poverty reduction plan with annual targets, announcing a 28-member advisory committee to gather input around the province.

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson announced that the committee is co-chaired by Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore and Dawn Hemingway, chair of the social work department at the University of Northern B.C. Simpson said the committee has 28 members and a budget of $1.2 million to conduct forums and consultation across the province.

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson announced that the committee is co-chaired by Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore and Dawn Hemingway, chair of the social work department at the University of Northern B.C. Simpson said the committee has 28 members and a budget of $1.8 million to conduct forums and consultation across the province.

The committee has a website at engage.gov.bc.ca/bcpovertyreduction and will gather input until March 2018.

The NDP government’s first move to tackle poverty was a $100-a-month increase to social assistance rates that took effect in September. Simpson other steps were removing fees for adult basic education and English language courses, and making post-secondary tuition free for young people coming out of B.C.’s foster care system.

Committee members include:

• Cheryl Casimir a member of the Ktunaxa Nation near Cranbrook and former director of treaty, lands and resources for the Ktunaxa Tribal Council

• Queenie Choo, CEO of SUCCESS, the largest non-profit social service organization in B.C.

• Trish Garner, an employee of the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition and a supporter of Raise the Rates, an an anti-poverty activist group in East Vancouver

• Wes Hewittt, executive director of the Port Alberni Shelter Society

• Murry Krause, a former city councillor in Prince George and past president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities

• Hillary Marks, a peer-support worker for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and a shelter worker at Our Place Society

• Rosanna McGregor, executive director of the Cariboo Friendship Society in Williams Lake

• John Millar, a retired physician and former vice-president of the Canadian Institute for Health Information

• Tabitha Naismith, a national board member at ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

• Stephanie Smith, president of the B.C. Government and Services Employees’ Union

• Stacey Tyers, a poverty law advocate and city councillor from Terrace

• Leslie Varley, a member of the Nisga’a Nation and former Indigenous health specialist at Provincial Health Services Authority