October was an exciting month and there is lots more going on as we enter the last six months before the provincial election! On October 17, 22 schools around the province took part in End Poverty Day - more details below, including a video called "This is what inequality looks like in BC"
produced by students at Princess Margaret Secondary in Surrey. I also joined over 130 people who took part in the Welfare Food Challenge, eating only what we could buy for $26 for the week of October 16-23. Links to the blog, media attention and ways to take action can be found below.
We have a new resource available for you below. Produced in collaboration with our child care partners, this fact sheet highlights the relationship between a plan for early care and learning and a poverty reduction strategy for BC. Also, new poll results reveal that 3 out of 4 British Columbians support a poverty reduction plan. Read on for more details.
My mid-October trip to Vancouver Island to meet with members and supporters was hugely successful and thoroughly enjoyable. Thanks to Faith in Action and KAIROS BC/Yukon Network for hosting me. I'm always open to invitations to meet with other organizations throughout the province and to present within your local communities so please keep that in mind if you're hosting any upcoming events.
BC Poverty Reduction Coalition
End Poverty Day: Student Day of Action
On October 17, students in 22 schools around the province worked hard to raise awareness about the crisis of poverty we're facing in BC. From Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Hope, Quesnel, Summerland and Telegraph Creek, students came together on End Poverty Day to take action. Instead of doing food bank drives, they asked for a long-term solution that addresses the root causes of these issues.
“The whole goal of this was not to ask for donations but to help raise awareness about poverty issues and hopefully motivate the government to do something about this,” says Gurpreet Dhaliwal from Princess Margaret Secondary in Surrey. Students collected hundreds of signatures for the petition urging the government to commit to a poverty reduction plan. Big thanks to all the students and teachers that got involved!
During the week, we worked with students at Princess Margaret Secondary in Surrey on this short video that shows what income inequality looks like in BC through a really effective visual demonstration.
Welfare Food Challenge
We worked with Raise the Rates on the Welfare Food Challenge, which took place from October 16, World Food Day, to October 23. Over 130 participants took the challenge including myself, Ted Bruce, Coalition co-chair and Executive Director of Population Health for Vancouver Coastal Health, and two groups of students involved with End Poverty Day, one from Surrey and one from Richmond. Here's the food I bought for $25.77 (see photo) - it was a hard week with constant hunger, no meat, few vegetables and fruit, and no flavour!
The Challenge was a huge success in changing people's personal perceptions and raising public awareness, and got a lot of positive media attention. Read participant's blogs here
and check out the media coverage in the Vancouver Courier
, on Global News
(starts at 3 mins) and more
It's now been 3 weeks since the Welfare Food Challenge but thousands still face the challenge every day. $610 per month is completely inadequate. E-mail Christy Clark and Adrian Dix to urge them to raise the rates! Or post to their Facebook pages: Christy Clark and Adrian Dix. More ideas for taking action can be found here.
Child Care Fact Sheet Now Available
$10 A Day Child Care: A Key to Ending Family Poverty
is a fact sheet that we worked on with our child care partners and is now available online here
(scroll down to download Fact Sheet 4). I also have printed copies so please let me know if you need any for distribution within your organization or at an upcoming event. I'll be presenting on these issues at the BCGEU provincial child care conference on Friday evening.
Over 3 out of 4 British Columbians Support a Poverty Reduction Plan
A recent poll conducted on behalf of the BC Healthy Living Alliance surveyed British Columbians on a number of BCHLA's advocacy priorities and support for a poverty reduction plan ranked highest for overall support at 78%, in relation to other disease prevention measures.
The response shows that the public clearly understands the relation between poverty and health. Support for a poverty reduction plan was even higher among seniors (82%), women (84%) and those with household incomes below $50,000 (86%). They also placed a high importance (80%) on increasing income assistance rates to account for the real cost of a nutritious diet and market rental rates. Here is the full press release
Updates from Members
BC Teachers' Federation Members are Mobilizing
Exciting news from the BCTF! They're mobilizing their members around poverty reduction throughout November. They kicked off the month with a slideshow on Poverty as an Election Issue and teachers have taken up the challenge to take action within their local communities. For example, teachers in Prince George are organizing a rally to their local MLA office (contact Tina Cousins to get involved) and, in Nelson, they're taking part in the Welfare Food Challenge and challenging parents to make lunches for their kids for only $26 for the week. Nov. 19th-23rd will be the focus of the month and teachers around the province will be wearing band-aid stickers saying "End Child Poverty." Please contact Kathy Hartman to order stickers for your organization and check out the BCTF website for the slideshow, speaking notes and more anti-poverty resources.
ACORN Canada Update and Upcoming Event
ACORN began a campaign in September calling on the Ministry of Social Development to provide livable allowances for people with disabilities. The ACORN Disability Rights Group is a large group of determined disabled people committed to justice and they have been holding monthly actions at ministry offices in the Greater Vancouver area. Some media coverage from the first two events: Burnaby Now
, News 1130
and Royal City Record
If you're in the Lower Mainland, please join them in their next Action on Thursday November 22nd at 12pm at Minister Moira Stilwell's Constituency office - 5740 Cambie Street #365 (Oakridge Station/Canada Line).
If you have a community event or news that you would like to be featured in our e-newsletter, please let me know by the beginning of each month.