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Surrey Board of Trade calls for poverty reduction plan

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Anita HubermanDec. 10 - The Surrey Board of Trade has backed a growing coalition of organizations and individuals calling for a poverty reduction plan in B.C.

In Canada, B.C. remains the only province without a poverty reduction plan. Currently, more than 400 organizations in the province are demanding a comprehensive plan.

The board's support gives the cause a high profile as it represents more than 2,100 businesses and has more than 6,000 members, making it one of the largest business organizations in the province.

 The coalition is specifically requesting a plan that will establish legislated targets and timelines.

The Surrey Board of Trade, which recently supported a national childcare plan, recognises there are economic benefits of a poverty reduction plan.

“Poverty increases health-care costs, policing burdens, diminished educational outcomes,” says Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade. “When we have a skill shortage and a labour shortage issue not only provincially but nationally, we want to try to maximize the full labour productivity of all of our citizens.”

"Raising the incomes of those living in poverty and creating social infrastructure, public services and assets will go a long way in addressing the problem," says Shayne Williams, Executive Director of the Lookout Society and a director with the Surrey Board of Trade. "A poverty reduction plan will lead to better overall community health, allow people to maintain their existing social housing and create more social housing."

 The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition estimates the cost of poverty in the province is $8-9 billion annually. A poverty reduction plan would cut that in half to an estimated $3-4 billion.