By any measure, B.C. has the highest rate of poverty in Canada. B.C. has recorded the highest child poverty rate for five years running. Despite years of strong economic growth and record low unemployment, more than half a million British Columbians -- 13 per cent of the total population -- live in poverty, and homelessness continues to rise. As we head into a global economic downturn, poverty risks getting worse unless action is taken.
We all pay for poverty. Study after study links poverty with poorer health, higher justice system costs, more demands on social and community services, more stress on family members and diminished school success. Effective poverty reduction will require the efforts of all segments of society (all levels of government, the private sector, non-profits, and citizens generally), but the provincial government must take the lead.
With an election looming, large groups of outraged citizens are demanding some positive action be taken to alleviate poverty in this province.
Organizations and community leaders from across the province, including faith leaders, health organizations, doctors, businesses, First Nations and Aboriginal groups, labour unions, immigrant and refugee organizations, community service agencies, municipal councils, women's groups, and many more.
As I am one of those living below the poverty line in BC, I will be listening very carefully to what each party will commit to doing to ease the anguish, before I cast my vote.
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