On the heels of NDP MLA Michelle Mungall’s introduction a private member’s bill proposing a British Columbia Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act in the B.C. legislature on May 6, the B.C. Liberal government and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) released their Community Poverty Reduction Pilot Projects 2014 Progress Report recently.
The report highlights the importance of cross-government and community partnerships to address poverty throughout the province.
When the pilot projects launched in May 2012, UBCM recommended the participating communities – Cranbrook, Kamloops, New Westminster, Port Hardy, Prince George, Stewart and Surrey – to reflect a mix of B.C.’s metro, urban, rural and remote communities.
Family consultants from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) were assigned to work collaboratively with community partners to build local teams, with the goals of identifying the key barriers families face, connecting families directly to the services they need, and creating community plans that work towards addressing these barriers.
Through their work in each community, the MCFD family consultants confirmed there is no one-size-fits-all approach to poverty.
Different communities expressed different priorities based on the needs of their local families. However, a key priority in all communities was to ensure the families knew about the existing programs and services offered by community agencies and all levels of government, and that they were also supported in accessing them.
According to the MCFD, families that participated directly in the pilot projects described the work as “priceless.” Their quality of life improved, barriers were lifted and stress levels declined. Many families either were not aware of the services and supports available, or did not know how to access them prior to their participation in the pilot projects.
The province will continue to target initiatives that offer safe and affordable housing, ensure food security and support the overall health for British Columbians, and will continue to work with municipal, federal and community services partners to build on the foundation of the work to date.
The provincial government’s actions to support this progress report’s findings include:
• Asking Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart to act as a poverty liaison. She will visit each pilot community and work with all levels of government and community organizations to help move their community plans forward.
• Working with major industry and small business to increase employment opportunities and advance economic development, skills training and job growth.
• Continuing to support the work of the MCFD family consultants in each community, and working to broaden the access points for one-on-one support.
The province and UBCM will report on the status and success of these pilots by July 30 each year. The progress report is posted on the ministry website at: