Kudos to BC’s Auditor General for his report on homelessness last week. John Doyle’s report raised numerous concerns, including that the provincial government lacks solid numbers on how many homeless people there are in BC, who they are, and most importantly, he found that the province does not have a clear and comprehensive action plan, nor does it have overall targets to measure success. He’s right.
Minister Rich Coleman was dismissive of many of Doyle’s findings. Nevertheless, in his response, the Minister did say some notable things I’ve not heard him say before. According to the Vancouver Sun, Coleman said that he would soon be introducing “performance targets to measure progress,” and he said his goal now is to end homelessness in five years (although it is unclear if he means street homelessness or all homelessness, an important distinction). There is no mention of legislating that goal, but I take this as some movement nonetheless. About a year ago, NDP MLA David Chudnovsky introduced a private member’s bill that would have legislated a five-year goal of eliminating homelessness, but at the time the government didn’t bite.
NDP critic Jenny Kwan, responding to last week’s Auditor’s report, said, “What we need are measurable targets, objectives and timelines.”
The CCPA is part of a growing chorus of organizations that have been calling for something very similar – a poverty reduction plan with legislated targets and timelines to reduce poverty and homelessness. So perhaps both parties are moving closer to making that commitment. Those wanting to add their voice to such a call should visit the website www.bcpovertyreduction.ca, and sign the Open Letter to BC’s political parties calling for clear targets and timelines.