KAMLOOPS - The Kamloops District and Labour Council is calling on Premier John Horgan to help end poverty in B.C.
In a submission to the poverty reduction consultation group on Jan. 4, the labour council laid out seven steps they want the NDP Government to take to alleviate the poverty situation in B.C. and Kamloops.
Top of the list is a call for an increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by January 2019.
A fair wages commission was established in October to advise the government how to move towards a $15 minimum wage with regular, measured and predictable increases. The commission's first report to Labour Minister Harry Bains is expected early in 2018.
“We need to insure that we raise the minimum wage,” Kamloops District and Labour Council president Barbara Nederpel says.
“Jobs are required, but it’s not enough to just have a job," she says. "There are people accessing the food bank who are working full time. We need to raise minimum wage but also increase social safety nets so people can breathe when their income comes in.”
The labour council is also proposing the NDP Government provide a universal publicly funded child care system and adopt the promised $10 a day child care plan.
“They do have a 10-year plan which I fully support, because it’s going to take time to build the facilities, it’s going to take time to train qualified child care workers,” Nederpel says. “But there is enough infrastructure to start the process now, making it more affordable. That exists already.”
To attack the issues of homelessness and affordable housing, Nederpel believes raising the minimum wage would be a good stopgap. However, she says more would need to be done.
“There is not enough low income housing, there has been a lot of movement, but unless we have municipal, provincial and federal governments working together to address this issue, it’s going to be very hard to accomplish,” she says.
In October of last year, Social Development Minister Shane Simpson unveiled a 27-member team, which will help give advice to the government in its poverty reduction efforts. Nederpel believes the consultation group is a good thing, but wants the government address poverty issues immediately.
“We don’t want the consultations to be delaying to what is required for the most vulnerable British Columbians, what they need right now.”
B.C. currently has the highest poverty rate in Canada based on the federal government's Market Basket Measure indicator which includes the costs of food, clothing, footwear, transportation, housing and other expenses for a family with two children.
There will be a community meeting run by the poverty reduction consultation group in Kamloops on Thursday, Jan.18. The time and venue for the meeting have not been released yet.
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