Today in the BC Legislature, the Official Opposition (MLA Shane Simpson) introduced a private member’s Bill proposing a BC Poverty Reduction Act. That Act, were it to be enacted, would see the government develop a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, and legislate specific targets and timelines to reduce the breadth and depth of poverty within one year.
The proposed Act also outlines how the strategy should be development, and the broad contents of what it should cover. (The proposed Act should be posted here shortly.)
During his leadership campaign, Adrian Dix committed to a poverty reduction plan. So it is gratifying to see how the Opposition would seek to make that commitment real. In other provinces, initiatives such as this have been supported by all parties, so it would be nice to see the Government support this Act.
Importantly, the proposed Act outlines how a government should be held accountable for progress. It commits to embed targets in legislation, to appoint a lead Minister, to have a cabinet committee to oversee the strategy co-chaired by the Premier, to have an outside advisory committee to hold the government to account, and to annual reporting to monitor progress. That all signals a strong commitment.
In the coming months, I hope to hear more from the Opposition about what their first steps would be, as initial needed actions are known and needn’t wait for the development of a full strategy.