Canadian Social Research Links

Non-Governmental Sites
in British Columbia

Sites de recherche sociale au Canada

Sites d'organismes non-gouvernementaux
en Colombie-Britannique

Updated May 25, 2018
Page révisée le 25 mai 2018

[ Go to Canadian Social Research Links Home Page ]

See these related Canadian Social Research Links pages also:

- British Columbia NGO Links (A-C)
- British Columbia Government Links
- British Columbia Welfare Time Limits
- The Vancouver Olympics and The Poverty Olympics -
Selected links from the front lines of poverty advocacy work at the 2010 Olympics

PovNet - friends and kindred spirits in BC --- current and comprehensive site - highly recommended!


Victoria Times-Colonist
Vancouver Province
Vancouver Sun

Georgia Straight - "Canada's Largest Urban Weekly" [Vancouver]
Monday Magazine
Vancouver Courier
(HINT: Try clicking each media link above and searching their archive for specific words, e.g., welfare)

BC Blogs

- links to over 300 BC-based blogs organized under the following categories:
Advocacy - Authors/Books/Publishers - Business and Economics - Community/Regional - Education - Energy, Climate & Environment - Expats - Film & TV - First Nations - Food & Drink - Francophone - Gardening and Farming - Gender & Sexual Issues - Graphic Arts, Photography & Design - Health & Medical - Law - Lifestyle, Fashion & Recreation Marketing - Metablogging - Miscellanea - Multicultural - Neighbours - Performing Arts - Personal Blogs - Political Commentary - Politicians - Sports & Fitness - Technology & Media - Transportation - Travel & Global Culture - Video Blogs & Podcasts - Written Arts -
* Activism * Arts & Culture * Beyond B.C. * Commerce & Law

Recommended reading:

Murray Dobbin's blog

Policy Note - from the BC Office of the
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

A Poverty Reduction Plan for BC?
NOTE: this link takes you to the BC section of the
Anti-poverty Strategies and Campaigns page of this site:

Since May 2010, ALL links to content concerning poverty reduction strategies and campaigns have been moved to the above page from the individual provincial/territorial pages, including government and NGO links.


To search the complete
Canadian Social Research Links website ,
use the text box below:

To search ONLY the page you are now reading,
use Ctrl + F to open a search window.


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(including archives back to January 2005).
Each issue includes all links added to this site during the previous week.
(2800+ subscribers in June 2017)


NEW From Maytree:
[ ]

Social assistance summaries released
April 24, 2018
Maytree has released the latest update to Social Assistance Summaries, a resource that shows the number of social assistance recipients across Canada and how that has changed over time. This update includes 2017 data provided by provincial and territorial government officials alongside a brief description of the social assistance programs in each jurisdiction.

Social Assistance Summaries uses data provided by provincial and territorial government officials to track the number of social assistance recipients across Canada. It also includes a brief description of the social assistance programs in each jurisdiction.

How to view the reports:
Select a province or territory from the list below to download that jurisdiction's summary and statistics in a separate report (avg. 3-4 pages), or download the complete national report in one file (75 pages).


Download the all-Canada report (PDF, 75 pages) :

Download content directly for individual jurisdictions:

Alberta :

British Columbia :

Manitoba :

New Brunswick :

Newfoundland and Labrador :

Nova Scotia :

Northwest Territories :

Nunavut :

Ontario :

Prince Edward Island :

Quebec :

Saskatchewan :

Yukon Territory :

Maytree is committed to advancing systemic solutions to poverty and strengthening civic communities. It believes the most enduring way to fix the systems that create poverty is to have economic and social rights safeguarded for all people living in Canada.

Related link:

Social Assistance Summaries 2014 (PDF - 235KB, 49 pages)
Anne Makhoul, March 201

Social Planning and Research Council
The Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) was established in 1966 and is a leader in applied social research, social policy analysis and community development approaches to social justice. Our mission is to work with communities in building a just and healthy society for all. We are a non-partisan, registered non-profit society and a federally registered charity. We are a provincial organization with over 16,000 members, governed by a Board of Directors that is representative of all regions of British Columbia.

2017 Child Poverty Report Card (PDF)
December 2017
Working in partnership with First Call [ ], we produced the 2017 Child Poverty Report Card. The Report Card shows that BC continues to struggle with high levels of child poverty, with 1 in 5 children under the age of 17 in BC living below the poverty line.

Related link from First Call:

Report on the Proceedings of the Symposium on Basic Income, Social Security and Poverty Reduction (PDF, 19 pages)
April 13, 2018
On March 16, 2018, First Call collaborated with the UBC School of Social Work, CCPA, City of Vancouver, SFU, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship, Vancity, CCPA-BC, UN Association of Canada-Vancouver Branch, Centre for Inclusion and Leadership to organize the Basic Income, Social Security and Poverty Reduction Symposium.

Disability payments should be boosted in next B.C. budget, advocates and experts say
By Lori Culbert and Tracy Sherlock
January 13, 2017
Teresa McKerracher is one of more than 100,000 British Columbians who rely on provincial disability payments, which give her $983 a month for rent, food, transportation and other essentials.
Last year’s provincial budget raised disability rates for the first time in a decade, but for her it was by the equivalent of $11 — and she is desperate for a much bigger boost this year.

Vancouver Sun

Number of British Columbians on EI and welfare jumps:
December 22, 2016
The number of people receiving federal Employment Insurance benefits increased across British Columbia in October, with some parts of the province seeing increases from a year ago of up to 138 per cent. B.C. had the third largest increase in EI beneficiaries in Canada from September to October, behind only Saskatchewan and Alberta, Statistics Canada reported this week.


Campaign 2000 releases 2016 Report Card
November 24, 2016
Campaign 2000 released its 2016 annual Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada on Thursday, November 24, in Ottawa. This date marks 27 years since the unanimous House of Commons’ resolution to end child poverty in Canada and seven years after the entire House of Commons voted “to develop an immediate plan to end poverty for all in Canada.”

Press Release (English)

Communiqué - Français


Complete report (English) (PDF - 1.9MB, 20 pages)
The 2016 national report card, A Road Map to Eradicate Child & Family Poverty, highlights the compelling reasons why the federal government needs to adopt a child and family poverty reduction lens on all policy, program and spending decisions.
NOTE : The complete report is available in English only.)

Campaign 2000


The national report card release corresponds with several Campaign 2000 partners releasing
provincial report cards on child and family poverty in the following cities:

Vancouver, British Columbia:

Regina, Saskatoon:

Winnipeg, Manitoba:

Toronto, Ontario:

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Saint John, New Brunswick:

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island:


Campaign 2000 Infographic : Issues and Solutions (small PDF file)

Don't Believe Claims $15 Minimum Wage Will Cost Jobs
Both research and BC experience support NDP's plan to boost it over four years.
By Paul Willcocks
30 June 2016
The minimum wage is a good test of political core principles. We've mostly agreed the state has a role in setting minimum pay. Just because someone can only command $10 a day in the marketplace doesn't mean an employer should be able to pay that little. The question then becomes what's a fair, pragmatic minimum wage.

Gordon Campbell's government froze the minimum wage for a decade, effectively rejecting the whole concept. Clark introduced a big increase, and then did stood by as the province once again came to have the lowest minimum wage in Canada at $10.45. (Increases planned for Sept. 15 this year and in 2017 will take the rate to $11.25.)

NDP leader John Horgan's promise of a $15 minimum wage is sound policy -- and a way to stake out an approach starkly different from the Liberal record over four terms in government.


Report on Single Parents, Welfare and Work:
SPARC BC, First Call, SFU and Single Mothers’ Alliance Call for Change
News Release
January 18, 2016
Navigating British Columbia’s social assistance system can be challenging. This report, Walking the Line to Put Their Families First: Lone Mothers Navigating Welfare and Work in British Columbia, shares the stories and experiences of single-parent families and the struggles they face in meeting their everyday needs. Income assistance rates in British Columbia have not increased since 2007, which means that single parents and their children who rely on this form of assistance continue to fall further behind as the cost of housing and other basic essentials continue to increase.

Complete report:

Walking the Line to Put Their Families First
Lone Mothers Navigating Welfare and Work in British Columbia
(PDF - 767KB, 31 pages)
Organization Authors: Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC), First Call BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, Single Mothers’ Alliance BC
Academic Authors: Jane Pulkingham, Sylvia Fuller, Marina Morrow, Sylvia Parusel
January 2016
* Guiding questions, research methods and approach to analysis
* Profile of lone mother research participants and lone parent households in Metro Vancouver
* Four vignettes about lone mothers receiving income assistance in Metro Vancouver
* Recommendations and opportunities to help lone mothers and their children

First Call BC

BC Welfare Food Challenge runs November 3 to November 9
2015 Welfare Food Challenge
The 4th Annual Welfare Food Challenge will run from Tuesday, November 3rd, to Monday, November 9th.
Participants will only eat the food they can buy with $21.
Join the Challenge! You can sign up here.
Find out more
Read participants’ blogs, tweets, and FB posts
Read about the Prep for the Challenge
Read posts by some of the 2015 Participants

Raise the Rates BC

Why not honour Jean Swanson for her tireless fight against legislated poverty?
By Charlie Smith
July 8th, 2015
(...) [Jean] Swanson is like a mirror, reminding politicians of their shortcomings in serving the entire community. And that irritates some of them because they don't like this being reflected back in their face.
But it doesn't mean that her contributions should go unrecognized. There are many single parents in B.C. whose lives have been immeasurably improved by Jean Swanson. It's time for the wider community, including MLAs in the legislature, to acknowledge this.

The Georgia Straight

Kudos to you Jean, on a job well done!!

Poverty and Deaths in British Columbia:
The Coroners Service’s Mandate and Why It Must Investigate
(PDF - 371KB, 20 pages) in_ bc_may_2015.pdf
By Tim Richards and the UVic Poverty Law Club
May 2015
Report Overview
I. Introduction
II. Our Fundamental Concern
III. The Circumstance that was the Catalyst for this Report
IV. The Context of Who is Dying
V. The Coroner’s Office: A History of Adaptation
VI. The Coroners Service: Stirrings of Concern
VII. The Mandate of the Coroners Service: Legal Foundations
VIII. The Classification of Death System and Poverty
IX. Our Request to Investigate Poverty as a Contributing Cause of Death
X. The Obstacles We Face and Responses
XI. Conclusion
XII. Sources

The UVic Poverty Law Club and UVic Law Faculty Instructor Tim Richards are calling upon the Coroners Service to investigate poverty as a contributing cause of deaths in the province of British Columbia. This is in response to the deaths of about 30 people who were attending the Our Place Society drop-in centre in Victoria, B.C. over the summer and early fall of 2012. Our attempts to have the Coroner investigate these deaths were unsuccessful.

However, through this work we realized that the legislative mandate of the Coroners Office strongly supports its intervention when doing so can prevent deaths. We believe this is the case as poverty is contributing to deaths, and thus we are making this call. If you have comments or questions about the report please contact Tim Richards at, and if you would like information on the campaign that will happen this fall please contact The information for contacting the Chief Coroner is on page 4 of the report.

Frozen: BC Welfare Rates Haven't Risen in Eight Years
By Andrew MacLeod
4 Mar 2015
In a gesture to British Columbia's lower-income residents, the government last month ended a much-reviled clawback on child support payments. But it did not increase general welfare rates. In fact, income assistance rates haven't budged for eight years. And the province's finance minister has no immediate plans to raise rates.

The Tyee

Comparing Government and Private Sector Compensation in British Columbia
By Jason Clemens et al.
January 20, 2015
With heightened interest in how wages and non-wage benefits in the government sector compare with those in the private sector, this study estimates wage differentials between the government and private sector in British Columbia. It also evaluates four available non-wage benefits in an attempt to quantify compensation differences between the two sectors.
- includes an executive summary and an infographic showing how much better off government employees are than people working in the private sector in many respects.

Complete study:

Comparing Government and
Private Sector Compensation in British Columbia
(PDF - 1.2MB, 39 pages)
The study is divided into three sections. The first reviews past research comparing the compensation of public and private sector workers. The second presents and explains the wage comparisons between the private and public sectors (broadly defined) in British Columbia. It also presents a summary of the methodology employed to compare and calculate differences in wages between the two sectors. Finally, the third section compares available non-wage benefits such as pension coverage, the age of retirement, job security, and absenteeism, to ascertain the likelihood that there is also a premium for non-wage benefits in the government compared to the private sector.

Fraser Institute
The Fraser Institute's vision is a free and prosperous world where individuals benefit from greater choice, competitive markets, and personal responsibility.
[Especially the personal responsibility part.]


Related link
from PressProgress:

Fraser Institute wonders if a good job with good pay and a good pension is "fair"?
January 23, 2015
Is a job offering a good wage, good benefits and a pension at retirement a bad thing? Many would say that sounds like a sound strategy to fuel the middle class and protect purchasing power in retirement. But one free-market think tank questions whether that's "fair." A new report from the Fraser Institute probes that question by comparing public and private sector compensation in British Columbia in 2013.

"Is it fair that a private-sector worker working a similar job as a public-sector worker is getting paid less in terms of total compensation?" asked Charles Lammam, the Fraser Institute's associate director of tax and fiscal policy, and one of the authors of the report.

Good question, Fraser Institute.

Comment by Gilles:

[So just how *did* The Fraser Institute avoid being audited by the Canada Revenue Agency again??]

PressProgress advances progressive solutions and challenges conservative ideas with hard-hitting news and analysis.
PressProgress is a project of the Broadbent Institute [ ].

B.C. still has one of the highest poverty rates in Canada
By Trish Garner
December 17, 2014
The latest poverty statistics were released by Statistics Canada last Wednesday, and the data once again shows that British Columbia has one of the highest poverty rates in Canada. Using the Low Income Cut-Off – After Tax (LICO-AT) [ ] as the poverty line, 1 in 10 British Columbians are living in poverty. That's 469,000 people struggling to make ends meet. In relation to the rest of the country, B.C. is tied third with Quebec after Ontario and Manitoba.
As always, there's a two-year delay in the data from Statistics Canada so these numbers describe the situation from 2012. However, this year there's also another challenge with the data -- it's produced from a new survey so we cannot compare to previous years.
While the LICO-AT is a useful measure, in part because it gives us one of the most conservative estimates of poverty and because the government themselves have begun to use it, it has some big problems . (...) So let's look at the Market Basket Measure (MBM) [ ], which is based on up-to-date costs of an adequate standard of living and reflects regional differences in living costs. (...) Using the MBM as a poverty line, we find over 1 in 7 British Columbians living in poverty. That's a shocking 670,000 people. B.C. now has the second-highest poverty rate in Canada after Nova Scotia.

[ Trish Garner is the Community Organizer with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, a broad-based network of over 400 organizations throughout B.C. calling on the government to implement a poverty reduction plan. ]



Also by Trish Garner:

B.C. needs a poverty-reduction plan:
Evidence of the extent of poverty cannot be ignored
By Trish Garner
November 27, 2014
And then there was one. B.C. is now last province without a plan to tackle poverty. Saskatchewan announced Oct. 22 in its throne speech it would commit to the development of a poverty reduction strategy, making British Columbia the last province in Canada without a plan to tackle poverty.
This despite the fact B.C. has the highest or second-highest poverty rate in the country, depending on the poverty measure.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth, chastises the government for failing to act on her recommendation for a “provincial strategy and action to reduce child poverty” in Not Fully Invested: A Follow-up Report on the Representative’s Past Recommendations to Help Vulnerable Children in B.C. [ (PDF) ]
, which was released in early October. [

Vancouver Sun

Campaign 2000 Report Card on
Child and Family Poverty in Canada, 2015

Campaign 2000 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada, 2015
(PDF 1.2MB, 20 pages)

Provincial reports:

The Campaign 2000 website [ ] features report cards from provincial partners in Nova Scotia, Manitoba and British Columbia, aas well as media releases from those provinces, and an infographic featuring key findings and recommendations. Report Cards from our other provincial partners, including Ontario, will be released in early 2016.

British Columbia 2015 Child Poverty Report Card (PDF - 59 pages)

Manitoba Report Card on Child and Family Poverty, 2015 (PDF - 10 pages)

Nova Scotia 2015 Report Card: End it Now (PDF - 28 pages)

Campaign 2000


Campaign 2000
British Columbia : 2014 Child Poverty Report Card
(PDF - 4.8MB, 43 pages)
November 24, 2014
First Call has been tracking child and family poverty rates in BC for nearly two decades. Our first provincial report card containing data for 1994 showed that one in five (over 170,000) BC children were poor. It is profoundly disappointing that 18 years later the data still shows that one in five (169,420) BC children are poor.
(Source : Report, page 4)

First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition

First Call Coalition's 2014 BC Child Poverty Report Card
- incl. links to (1) the report card, (2) specific actions you can take to convince the BC Government to act on the recommendations of this report, and (c) First Call’s Media Release about the Report Card and what other people are saying about the report card findings.


Related links

From :

Child Poverty Report Card: BC Shows Improvement
By Katie Hyslop
November 24, 2014
British Columbia has the fifth highest child poverty rate in Canada, according to the 2014 Child Poverty Report Card released today by First Call B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. It's an improvement from a year earlier when B.C.'s rates were the highest in the country. But hold the celebration. Although Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick surpass B.C. in child poverty, First Call, a child advocacy group, says B.C.'s decrease is likely due to a change in data availability.

NOTE : Click the link above, then scroll partway down the next page for links to the following related articles:
* Warning: Child Poverty Is Hazardous to Our Health
* Not one of our kids is disposable, yet we keep them brain-damagingly poor.
* No Easy Numbers for Single Mom Poverty
* BC figures show sharp fall in their median income. But variable data hides the real story.
* BC ties Manitoba for highest child poverty
* Read more: Rights + Justice, BC Politics



Child poverty on rise in B.C., says First Call coalition report card
First Call coalition finds roughly 1 in 5 - or 169,240 - children were living in poverty in B.C. in 2012
November 24, 2014


National report card on child poverty for 2014

Campaign 2000 report card : Marking 25 Years since Canada’s House of Commons’ Unanimous Resolution to End Child Poverty in Canada
November 24, 2014
Campaign 2000 released its new Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada on Monday, November 24th in Toronto. This year marks 25 years since the unanimous House of Commons’ resolution to end child poverty in Canada and five years after the entire House of Commons voted “to develop an immediate plan to end poverty for all in Canada.”

The complete national report:

Child Poverty 25 Years Later : We Can Fix This
2014 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada
(PDF - 744KB, 12 pages)
[ Version française : ]

Child Poverty 25 Years Later: Action Long Overdue (small PDF file, 2 pages)
Media Release
With over 310,000 Canadian children using food banks each month, growing income inequality and rising childcare and tuition costs, we can’t afford to delay any longer. We need real progress, for real people, now.

Campaign 2000
Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan, cross-Canada network of 120 national, provincial and community partner organizations committed to working to end child and family poverty.


- For similar reports from other participating jurisdictions,
go to the Campaign 2000 Child Poverty Report Card Links page:

[International] OECD Social Expenditure Database- November 2014 Update
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)

Where’s the fanfare for tackling poverty effectively?
Connecting the dots between three political moments over three months
By Trish Garner
July 29, 2014
On June 16, I attended the B.C. government’s Disability Summit, the culmination of a three-month public consultation process on disability in B.C. I watched Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Don McRae lead the audience through the event. I felt the flurry of excitement as Premier Christy Clark took to the stage to launch the government’s new action plan, Accessibility 2024 [ ], and then watched as she left as quickly as she had arrived. I heard business leaders talk about the benefits of meaningful inclusion. And I saw cameras and reporters focused on the front while the most important message came from protestors on the outside.
On May 6, Opposition MLA Michelle Mungall introduced a member’s bill, the Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act [ ]. Since then, the premier has received hundreds of emails and letters from organizations throughout B.C. asking her to support the proposed act.

B.C. has had the highest poverty rate in Canada for the last 13 years and is now one of only two provinces without a poverty reduction plan. Bill M 212 includes government responsibility, targets and timelines, and strong accountability measures—features that are critical to the success of any plan, as the government has recognized in its disability action plan. However, a comprehensive poverty reduction plan would have much more impact and truly make B.C. the most “progressive” province in Canada with no one left behind.

[ Author Trish Garner is the community organizer for the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition. ]

Source: - Vancouver's Online Source

The Cost of Eating in BC 2011 Report (PDF file - 4.6MB, 16 pages)
February 2012
The Cost of Eating in BC has been published for over a decade to detail how much it costs for individuals and families in BC to access an adequate amount of food, to relate this cost to income, and to consider the reasons why many people cannot meet this basic need.

In 2011, the provincial average cost of the nutritious food basket for a family of four is $868.43 per month. Those earning minimum wage, receiving income assistance, or facing other challenges (high rents, child care, or transportation costs, for example) struggle to find ways to purchase food as well as meet their other basic needs.

In the ten years that the Cost of Eating in BC Report has been published, the situation has only gotten worse for individuals and families earning low wages or receiving government assistance...

From the Dietitians of Canada:

From Global News:

Thousands of low-income families in B.C.
face loss of federal co-op housing subsidies
April 16, 2013
Thousands of British Columbians fear they will have to find a new home as federal housing subsidy agreements with 1,500 B.C. households come to an end between now and 2017. Ottawa stopped funding social housing nearly two decades ago, but continued to provide operating subsidies for existing projects. Those time-limited funding agreements are now expiring.
“One-quarter of co-op homes in B.C. will come to the end of their federal housing agreements — 1,500 households by 2017 and 3,000 by 2020,” said Thom Armstrong, executive director of the Co-Operative Housing Federation of B.C. [ ]


A more recent article from Global News:

Fears of evictions across Canada as feds end co-op housing subsidy
January 22, 2014
By Erika Tucker and Vassy Kapelos
(Rental) subsidies have been provided to co-ops through agreements to pay the mortgage, and most were established in the 1990s for 20 or 30-year terms. But when the mortgage is paid, the subsidy ends. Nicholas Gazzard of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, said the point of the federal rental subsidy is to allow people with low or fixed incomes to be able to pay rent.

Minister of State for Social Development Candice Bergen says the end of the subsidy shouldn’t come as a surprise. “These housing providers knew that these mortgages were coming up, they knew these agreements would be ending because the mortgages are paid off,” said Bergen. In Ontario, more than 7,000 households are slated to lose their rental top-ups. In Quebec, it’s nearly 6,000 and in British Columbia about 4,200 households.

Gazzard believes the problem is Canada’s “fragmented housing landscape” and could be resolved by getting provinces and feds to solve the problem collectively.
But Bergen said the $1.25 billion over five years the federal government has invested in affordable housing should be enough for the provinces to use for social housing projects as needed.

Global News


2013 Report Cards on Child and Family Poverty- November 26
(From Campaign 2000)

Campaign 2000 and Its Regional Partners Release
New 2013 Report Cards on Child and Family Poverty
November 26, 2013
Campaign 2000’s annual Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada was released on Tuesday, November 26th in Ottawa. This year marks 24 years since the unanimous House of Commons’ resolution to end child poverty in Canada by 2000 and four years after the entire House of Commons voted “to develop an immediate plan to end poverty for all in Canada.”

National report card:

The 2013 national report card, entitled Canada’s REAL Economic Action Plan Begins with Poverty Eradication, highlights the compelling reasons why the federal government needs to take leadership. It presents the latest statistics on child and family poverty and makes recommendations for all political parties. Federal party leaders have been invited to respond to the report card.

Canada’s REAL Economic Action Plan Begins with Poverty Eradication:
2013 Report card on Child and Familkiuy Poverty in Canada
(PDF - 3MB, 22 pages)
[ Version française: ]


Provincial report cards:

On the same day as the national report card was released, several of Campaign 2000 regional partner organizations released their provincial report cards on child and family poverty as well, including:
* Vancouver, BC (see link below)
* Edmonton, Alberta
* Calgary, Alberta
* Toronto, Ontario
* Saint John, New Brunswick
* Halifax, Nova Scotia

British Columbia

BC Report Card on Child and Family Poverty, 2013 (PDF - 3.4MB, 32 pages)
By Adrienne Montani
November 2013
BC had a child poverty rate of 18.6 per cent — the worst rate of any province in Canada, using the before-tax low income cut-offs of Statistics Canada as the measure of poverty.

First Call: BC Child and
Youth Advocacy Coalition


NOTE : For links to the reports on child poverty from Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Saint John (NB) and Halifax,
go to :


Join us and take e-action to send a message to our Prime Minister and all the federal party leaders today.
Click here to send a letter :


Related online resource:

A history of inaction (PDF infographic [English and French] - 19.7MB, 2 pages)
- incl. timelines and potential outcomes

Campaign 2000
Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan, cross-Canada coalition of more than 120 national, provincial and community organizations committed to working together to end child and family poverty in Canada, over 70 of which are from Ontario.


A Poverty Reduction Plan for BC?
NOTE: this link takes you to the BC section of the
Anti-poverty Strategies and Campaigns page of this site:

Since May 2010, ALL links to content concerning poverty reduction strategies and campaigns have been moved to the above page from the individual provincial/territorial pages, including government and NGO links.

Welfare's New Era: Survival of the Fittest
- July 2004 <=== valuable historical welfare information!

The Tyee, a British Columbia based, online media site presented a four part series by Andrew MacLeod on the BC Government's 'New Era' welfare policies.

Part One: Welfare's New Era: Survival of the Fittest
Part Two: Where Did All the Welfare Cases Go?
Part Three: Welfare Reform's Public-Private Partnerships
Part Four: Shut Out at the Entrance

"...your independent alternative daily newspaper reaching every corner of B.C. and beyond"

Highly recommended - excellent source of info on welfare reforms of the Campbell government in BC since 2001!

Dietitians of Canada:
Dietitians of Canada (DC) is the national professional association for dietitians, representing almost 6000 members at the local, provincial and national levels. DC is one of the largest organizations of dietetic professionals in the world.

The Cost of Eating in British Columbia, 2011
On February 28, 2012, Dietitians of Canada, BC Region released the report The Cost of Eating in BC 2011.Dietitians publish the report to bring attention to the fact that many British Columbians don’t have enough money to buy healthy food.
And, it’s not getting any better.

TIP : Click the link above and scroll down the page for links to earlier editions of this report for 2009, 2007, 2006 and 200.

2011 Cost of Eating in BC Report Released: Nothing is Improving
News Release
February 28, 2012

The complete report:

The Cost of Eating in British Columbia, 2011 (PDF - 4.7MB, 16 pages)
Ensuring that individuals and families are food secure is more than addressing the immediate need to feed our hungry citizens. The solution rests in addressing the underlying factors that cause food insecurity, specifically poverty and the food system.
Recommendations for change outlined in this report:
1. Establish a provincial poverty reduction strategy
2. Build affordable housing
3. Update income assistance to reflect the cost of living
4. Enact a living wage policy
5. Work toward sustainable food systems that no longer require food banks


Dietitians of Canada:
Dietitians of Canada (DC) is the national professional association for dietitians, representing almost 6000 members at the local, provincial and national levels. DC is one of the largest organizations of dietetic professionals in the world.

The Cost of Eating in BC 2009 (PDF - 4.6MB, 12 pages)
December 2009
Why do dietitians publish The Cost of Eating in BC report?
The purpose of the report is to bring attention to the fact that not all residents of British Columbia have enough money to purchase healthy food.
The facts in BC:
• The 2009 monthly cost of the nutritious food basket for a family of four is $872
• A family of four on income assistance would need more than 100% of their income for shelter and food only


Left Behind: A Comparison of Living Costs and Employment and Assistance Rates in BC (PDF file - 593K, 36 pages)
December 2005
"The primary finding of this report is that it is harder for income assistance recipients to make ends meet in 2005 than it was three years ago following cuts to welfare benefit rates in 2002. Few material changes have been made to welfare policy since the last edition of this report in 2002, in which we described the significant reforms to welfare in BC made that year. However, in the intervening years, inflation has continued to erode the meagre incomes available to people receiving social assistance in BC. The already inadequate benefit levels have remained static in spite of increasing costs, particularly for shelter, heating, and transportation."
Social Planning and Research Council of BC

Disability Resource Network of BC (DRN) --- British Columbia
"The Disability Resource Network (DRN) is a provincial organization committed to providing programs and services, professional development, resources and news events that affect individuals who have a disability (disabilities), in the British Columbia Post Secondary Education system."
- incl. online info and links to BC Institutions - the World Health Organization definition of disability - news and events - materials - info by type of disability - etc.

Disability Without Poverty Network
In April 2011, the BC Coalition of People With Disabilities (BCCPD) formed the Disability Without Poverty Network. In addition to the BCCPD, the Network’s members are the BC Association for Community Living (BCACL), Canadian Mental Health Association - BC and Yukon Division (CMHA), Social Planning and Research Council (SPARC) and the Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS).
The goal of our network is to develop positive recommendations for change so that British Columbians who have a disability and who receive the Persons with Disabilities Benefit (PWD) are not living in poverty,
- includes an abstract of the above paper and related links.

Member organizations:

* BC Coalition of People With Disabilities

* BC Association for Community Living

* Canadian Mental Health Association - BC and Yukon Division [no YK Division website]

* Social Planning and Research Council

* Community Legal Assistance Society

Selected site content:

Overdue : The Case for Increasing the
Persons with Disabilities Benefit in BC
(PDF - 776K, 19 pages)
July 2012
Key proposals:
--- Increase the PWD ("Person with disabilities") benefit to $1,200 per month
--- Index the PWD benefit
--- Establish a shelter assistance program for people with disabilities
This paper makes a strong case that these changes are needed to help ensure that PWD recipients are not living in poverty.

Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council
The Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council (DNC) of formed in December 2009 under the initiative of the Carnegie Community Action Project, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, and ACCESS for Chinese Canadians. We are a representative group of Downtown Eastside residents who advocate for the needs, interests, and aspirations of our neighbourhood.

Remember the recent BC P3 DTES SRO hotel reno announcement from Finance Canada?
[Dontcha just love acronyms?]

Public-Private Partnership to Renovate Single-Room Occupancy Hotels in the Downtown Eastside
March 2, 2012
Vancouver, British Columbia—The Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia today announced a public-private partnership (P3) to renovate and restore 13 provincially owned Single-Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels housing some 900 residents in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) to provide access to clean and safe social housing.
Department of Finance Canada


The other side of the story:
(Link found on the website)

Downtown Eastside Newspaper launched
March 9, 2012
The Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council has released the first issue of the DT Eastside Newspaper with a pull out poster of proposed condo development in the DTES. The DNC wants to put the voices of low-income DTES residents at the centre of action for social justice. They want to put 5000 copies of this paper in hotels and other places throughout the DTES. They hope the paper will help more people learn what's happening in their community and get involved in making it better for the low-income people who live here now.


Expensive East Vancouver housing (video, duration 2:36)
Global TV - BC

Early Childhood Educators of B.C.

B.C. Liberals haven’t delivered on early child development
April 27, 2009
[ Author Vi-Anne Zirnhelt is the president of
Early Childhood Educators of B.C.

Economicus ridiculous
... exercises in miserly minimalism

A consumer advice blog with a twist, written by two women (Daphne Moldowin and Chrystal Ocean) who live far below the poverty line.
- includes:
* tips and tricks for getting by on next to nothing.
* discussion of systemic and societal barriers that people in households of very low income confront daily - and what we do about them.
* heads-up about free stuff, discount deals, and other opportunities to save, maybe even make, money
Chrystal Ocean describes herself as a Canadian social libertarian, homeless activist (at times in both senses), democratic reformer, atheist, founder of a group run by and for women in poverty, author of several blogs and a book. She is founder of WISE (Wellbeing through Inclusion Socially & Economically), a group for and led by women in poverty. WISE folded in late 2006 due to cuts and changes to Status of Women Canada grant eligibility criteria.
Daphne Moldowin describes herself as an energetic advocate for women's equality who actively encourages people to re-view their outlook on society's treatment of women.

Challenging the Commonplace
... and other irreverent activities
Chrystal Ocean's personal blog, includes hundreds of postings about poverty, mental health, homelessness and related issues going back to 2008.

Also from Chrystal Ocean:

Policies of Exclusion, Poverty & Health: : Stories from the front (2005)
A reading of the book Policies of Exclusion, Poverty & Health
Compiled, with Introduction and Reports by Chrystal Ocean
The purpose of this site is to enable the hosting of 24 podcasts, covering the reading of the 2005 book Policies of Exclusion, Poverty & Health: Stories from the front. Each episode of this audio book tells a story, not only the stories of the 21 women, but also the larger story of their efforts to organize and the barriers which continue to thwart their efforts. The last page of the last report of the book reveals their hope and determination that it not signal the end, but the beginning of meaningful change - for them, for their families, and for their communities.
[Click the links in the left-hand margin to listen to the Introduction, the 21 women's testimonials and a summary of issues raised and recommendations to help deal with those issues.]

End Legislated Poverty (ELP)
"End Legislated Poverty (ELP) is a coalition of over 40 groups in BC, working together to educate and organize in order to make governments reduce and end poverty. ELP is part of a larger international movement fighting for the rights of people living in poverty."

- incl. links to : About ELP - News Releases - Welfare Time Limits - Long Haul/Flaw line - Current Campaigns - Resources for people in poverty in Greater Vancouver - Factoids about Poverty - Panhandling Rights - Welfare Cuts and Violence Against Women - Local Bylaws and Poverty - Links - Contact Us / Get Involved - Mental Patients Rights

Family Connections

Family Support Institute
The Family Support Institute is a province wide organization whose purpose is to support and strengthen families faced with the extraordinary circumstances that come with having a family member who has a disability

Family Services of Greater Vancouver
Strengthening People, Families and Community
Incl. Counselling, Education & Adoption Services - Parenting - Specialized Counselling - Youth - Diverse Communities - Sponsors - Events - Courses - In Focus

First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition
First call is a cross-sectoral, non-partisan coalition of provincial and regional organizations, engaged communities and individuals whose aim is to raise public awareness and mobilize communities around the importance of public policy and social investments that support the well-being of children, youth and families.

First Call Coalition Provincial/Regional Partners
- incl. list of all 80+ coalition partners and links to their websites.

Selected site content:

British Columbia 2012 BC Child Poverty Report Card

High child poverty rate and growing inequality threaten BC's future prosperity (small PDF file)
News Release
November 21, 2012
The Child Poverty Report Card released today by First Call, the BC partner in Campaign 2000, shows that British Columbia remains near the bottom of the heap when it comes to most major measures of poverty. It also shows a growing gap between families at the top and the bottom of the income scale. BC’s child poverty rate dropped to 14.3 percent in 2010, still the worst rate of any province except Manitoba, and higher than the Canadian average of 13.7 percent, according to the latest figures published by Statistics Canada.

British Columbia 2012 BC Child Poverty Report Card (PDF - 3MB, 31 pages)
November 2012
This BC Child Poverty Report Card includes an introduction, ten fact sheets on child poverty, and recommendations.
Fact Sheet #1 BC’s Dismal Poverty Rates
Fact Sheet #2 Child Poverty Over the Years
Fact Sheet #3 Child Poverty by Family Type
Fact Sheet #4 The Depth of Poverty
Fact Sheet #5 Child Poverty and Working Parents
Fact Sheet #6 Families With Children on Welfare
Fact Sheet #7 The Ins and Outs of Child Poverty
Fact Sheet #8 Incomes of Families With Children – Growing Inequality
Fact Sheet #9 The Importance of Government Help
Fact Sheet #10 The Poverty Gap in British Columbia
BC Campaign 2000 Recommendations
Appendix 1: Measures of Poverty
Appendix 2: Further Changes in the Minimum Wage

Report Highlights
(Excerpt from page 2 of the report)
* BC had an overall poverty rate of 15.5 percent – the worst rate of any province in Canada using the before-tax low income cut-offs of Statistics Canada as the measure of poverty.
* BC had the second worst child poverty rate at 14.3 percent – the worst rate of any province except Manitoba.
* BC had the worst poverty rate of any province at 11.6 percent for children living in two-parent families.
* BC had the most unequal distribution of income among rich and poor families with children. The ratio of the average incomes of the richest ten percent compared to the poorest ten percent was the worst of any province at 13.8 to one.

Earlier editions opf the BC Child Poverty Report Card
- back to 2005

First Call: BC Child and
Youth Advocacy Coalition
First Call is a cross-sectoral, non-partisan coalition of provincial and regional organizations, engaged communities and individuals whose aim is to raise public awareness and mobilize communities around the importance of public policy and social investments that support the well-being of children, youth and families.

Selected media coverage:

BC Child Poverty Rate 2nd Worst In Canada: Report (with video)
By Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press, Nov 21, 2012

Enough with Child Poverty 'Band-aids': BC Teachers' Union
By Katie Hyslop,, Nov 21, 2012

Child poverty a troubling sign of the times
Ted Clarke, Prince George Citizen, Nov 21, 2012

Child poverty rates in B.C. blasted by advocates
Nov 21, 2012

126 comments about this article (not too many from the BC Liberal Fan Club...)

CBC News


Related link:

2012 Report Card on Child Poverty in Canada : Campaign 2000

Government of Canada Missing in Action on child poverty: Report (PDF - 196K, 1 page)
News Release
November 21, 2012
TORONTO – More Canadian children live in poverty today than in 1989 and the federal government is missing in action, says Laurel Rothman, National Coordinator for Campaign 2000. Twenty-three years after the House of Commons unanimously voted to work together to eliminate child poverty, the crisis is worse. Today, one in seven Canadian children live in poverty – one in four in First Nation’s communities – a reality that threatens our country’s future through higher healthcare costs, lost productivity and limited opportunities.

The 2012 report, entitled Needed: A Federal Action Plan to Eradicate Child and Family Poverty in Canada calls on the Federal Government to take a lead role in child and family poverty reduction. Policy recommendations are offered to all political parties to redress the persistence of child and family poverty in Canada.

Complete national report:

Needed: A Federal Action Plan to Eradicate Child and Family Poverty in Canada
November 2012
[ Version française : ]
Without a national anti-poverty strategy, child and family poverty in Canada will continue to grow, compromising the success of future generations and threatening Canada’s economic stability. Today, there are poverty reduction strategies in seven of the ten provinces and even in some municipalities. When it comes to eradicating child poverty, the Federal government is currently an absentee partner. A coordinated federal action plan that sets significant goals for poverty eradication, dedicates adequate financial and human resources and mandates reporting of progress is vital for Canada’s future. It is also long overdue.

Campaign 2000
Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan, cross-Canada coalition of over 120 national, provincial and community organizations, committed to working together to end child and family poverty in Canada. Visit the Campaign 2000 website for a complete list of partner organizations.


First Call critiques 'alleged' BC poverty strategy
By Katie Hyslop
August 1, 2012
A child and youth advocacy organization is calling out the provincial government for creating a poverty strategy without money for new programs and policies.The provincial government's community-based poverty reduction strategy, announced this past spring, will begin this fall in seven B.C. communities: Surrey, New West Minster, Kamloops, Cranbrook, Prince George, Stewart, and Port Hardy. If successful they plan to spread to 20 communities by the end of 2012, and 47 by 2015.

Organized around the idea there is no "one size fits all" strategy for reducing poverty -- as distinct from the 11 province and territory-wide strategies that exist or are in development -- government officials will begin to work with 10 to 15 impoverished families in these communities in September.

That's not enough to make a substantial dent in poverty in B.C., let alone eradicate it, according to First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. In BC's "Alleged" Poverty Reduction Strategies report released by First Call today, the organization says the strategy is pointless without money and province-wide policies.

August 2012
BC’S “alleged” poverty reductions strategies:
When is a strategy not a strategy?
(PDF - 168K, 19 pages)
If the BC government wants to be taken seriously on poverty reduction, it has to give top priority to income and barriers to earning income, such as the lack of affordable child care. Regional strategies and community involvement are important, but only if they complement action to boost the incomes of poor families.

Our first recommendation to the province over the years has been to enact a full-fledged poverty reduction strategy with specific targets for reducing the poverty rate over time. All provincial and territorial governments in Canada except for British Columbia and Saskatchewan have endorsed this approach.

First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition


Child poverty rate drops in British Columbia,
rates for all persons still the worst in Canada
June 18, 2012
News Release
The child poverty rate in British Columbia dropped from 11.8 percent in 2009 to 10.5 percent in 2010, Statistics Canada reported today.
The latest BC rate was the second worst in Canada after the rate of 11.1 percent in Manitoba. Previously, the child poverty rate in BC was the worst of any province in Canada for eight consecutive years.

The number of poor children was down from 98,000 in 2009 to 87,000 in 2010. Meanwhile, the poverty rate for persons of all ages in BC fell slightly from 12.0 percent in 2009 to 11.5 percent in 2010. It was the worst poverty rate in Canada for 12 consecutive years. The number of poor persons dropped from 523,000 to 510,000. “The latest statistics show – once again – the need for a comprehensive anti-poverty program in British Columbia, supported by every political party,” said Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator of First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. “Poverty is costing children their health and limiting their ability to reach their full potential.”

The current BC government has proposed modest local anti-poverty initiatives in seven BC communities, but has made it clear it will not make significant investments to fight poverty prior to the 2013 provincial election. (...)

First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition


British Columbia Child Poverty Report Card (PDF - 2.4MB, 28 pages)
November 2011
Campaign 2000 calls on all provinces and the federal government to commit themselves to a 50 percent reduction in poverty among all Canadians by 2020. BC supporters of Campaign 2000 hope to see a provincial child poverty rate before taxes of seven percent or less by 2020. We are also calling for the appointment of a BC cabinet minister with the authority and responsibility to ensure that a poverty reduction plan is developed and implemented and that the province is on track for achieving its poverty reduction targets and meeting its timelines. (p. 23)
First Call: BC Child and
Youth Advocacy Coalition

First Call is a cross-sectoral, non-partisan coalition of provincial and regional organizations, engaged communities and individuals whose aim is to raise public awareness and mobilize communities around the importance of public policy and social investments that support the well-being of children, youth and families.

Related link
from Campaign 2000:

Revisiting Family Security in Insecure Times:
2011 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada
(PDF - 2.8MB, 16 pages)
[The national report]
November 2011
All we are asking is to give children a chance. Campaign 2000 is looking for a real commitment from this Parliament to reduce poverty by at least 50% by the year 2020, creating a pathway to eventual eradication. The federal government, in our view, must play a lead role.
Campaign 2000
Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan, cross-Canada coalition of over 120 national, provincial and community organizations, committed to working together to end child and family poverty in Canada.

NOTE: If you wish to see 2011 child and family poverty reports for all participating Canadian provinces on one page (+ links to last year's reports), go to the Children, Families and Youth Links (NGO) page:


BC Campaign 2000 : 2010 Child Poverty Report Card (PDF - 2.4MB, 22 pages)
November 24, 2010
BC Campaign 2000 Recommendations:
Campaign 2000 calls on all provinces and the federal government to commit themselves to a 50 percent reduction in poverty among all canadians by 2020. bc supporters of campaign 2000 hope to see a provincial child poverty rate before taxes of seven percent or less by 2020. We are also calling for the appointment of a bc cabinet minister with the authority and responsibility to ensure that a poverty reduction plan is developed and implemented and that the province is on track for achieving its poverty reduction targets and meeting its timelines.

A Time for Leadership in Fighting Child Poverty (PDF - 2 pages)
Media Release
November 24, 2010
Children need the political leaders of British Columbia to step forward and commit themselves to fighting poverty, BC Campaign 2000 said today in its latest annual report on child poverty. (...) The child poverty rate in British Columbia dropped to 14.5 percent in 2008, according to the latest figures published by Statistics Canada. The number of poor children was 121,000 - or about one of every seven BC children. Alarmingly, the poverty rate for children under age six was 19.6%, or one in five young children.


Related links:

Putting a face on poverty
By Mark Hume
November 24, 2010
(...) The [child poverty] report, with a focus on the provincial situation, was released by First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. Relying on 2008 Statistics Canada data, the most recently available, it shows one in ten children nationally live in poverty; in B.C. it is one in seven. The rates are the lowest in a decade, but a spike is expected when the 2009 data is released next spring because of the economic crisis that began in the fall of 2008.
Globe and Mail


1 in 7 B.C. children live in poverty
NOVEMBER 24, 2010
An anti-poverty group says the recession will likely make B.C. child poverty rates worse.
Toronto Star

This is one of a series of provincial reports all released under the Campaign 2000 banner on November 24 (2010), the anniversary of the 1989 unanimous House of Commons resolution to end child poverty by the year 2000. For links to the complete collection of federal and provincial reports and (selected) related media coverage, go to the Children, Families and Youth Links (NGO) page:

Twenty Years Later - A Second Look (PDF - 15K, 2 pages)
January 11, 2010
This is the first in a series of monthly reports by First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition on child poverty in British Columbia. The series is a continuing call to the BC government to start getting serious about fighting child and family poverty. The provincial government has spent the last several years trying to explain away the poverty statistics.
The latest shots came on November 24 on the government web site:
[ ]
None of the figures were incorrect, but they gave the misleading impression that BC is a leader in fighting poverty.
The technique is what statisticians call “cherry picking,” using selected figures that seem to reinforce the argument you’re trying to make...
First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition
First Call is a cross-sectoral, non-partisan coalition of provincial and regional organizations, engaged communities and individuals whose aim is to raise public awareness and mobilize communities around the importance of public policy and social investments that support the well-being of children, youth and families. First Call grew out of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. When Canada ratified that Convention in 1991, its advocates gathered in a National Conference and agreed that it is time to give children a first call on our resources and on our advocacy efforts. The BC representatives were drawn from a variety of sectors: education, health, justice, social services, and others.

Related links:

British Columbia Report Card on Child and Family Poverty (PDF - 886K, 23 pages)
November 2009
- includes nine fact sheets that analyze various aspects of child poverty in BC. and Measures of Poverty (Appendix)
First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition

Campaign 2000
Campaign 2000 is a cross-Canada public education movement to build Canadian awareness and support for the 1989 all-party House of Commons resolution to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000. Campaign 2000 began in 1991 out of concern about the lack of government progress in addressing child poverty. Campaign 2000 is non-partisan in urging all Canadian elected officials to keep their promise to Canada's children.

BC Poverty Reduction
We are a coalition that includes community and non-profit groups, faith groups, health organizations, First Nations and Aboriginal organizations, businesses, labour organizations, and social policy groups. We have come together around a campaign aimed at seeing the introduction of a bold and comprehensive poverty reduction plan from the government of British Columbia that would include legislated targets and timelines to significantly reduce poverty and homelessness.

British Columbia Report Card on Child and Family Poverty (PDF - 886K, 23 pages)
November 2009
The BC Child Poverty Report Card includes nine fact sheets that analyze various aspects of child poverty in BC.:
1. BC Had the Worst Record – Six Years in a Row
2. Child Poverty Over the Years
3. Child Poverty by Family Type
4. Persistence of Poverty
5. Child Poverty and Working Parents
6. Families with Children on Welfare
7. I ncomes of Families with Children
8. Child Poverty and the Importance of Government Help
9. What Needs to Happen
Melanie’s Story – The Human Face of Child Poverty
Appendix : Measures of Poverty
First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition

BC Child poverty rate still the worst in Canada:
when will the provincial government take action?
(PDF - 79K, 2 pages)
News Release
November 24, 2009
For six years in a row, British Columbia has had the highest child poverty rate in Canada tied only with Manitoba in 2007. Figures released today by First Call, the BC partner in Campaign 2000, show BC at a rate of 18.8 percent of children living in poverty in 2007. The Canadian average in that same year was 15 percent.

Related Links:

Child poverty: setting new goals
November 24, 2004
"Giving up is not an option. But clinging to a faded dream is not a solution.
So today, on the 15th anniversary of his parliamentary resolution to end child poverty by 2000, Ed Broadbent will set a new goal. He will challenge Canadians to reduce the child poverty rate to 5 per cent within 10 years. His new target lacks the tidy finality of the one he persuaded all MPs to endorse on Nov. 24, 1989, shortly before his retirement as leader of the New Democratic Party. It is less ambitious, less appealing.But Broadbent, who returned to active politics this year, believes it is realistic and achievable. He calls it 'a new agenda for a new time.'
The child poverty rate currently stands at 15 per cent. It was 15.2 per cent when Broadbent issued his clarion call 15 years ago."
The Toronto Star

Complete report:

One million too many: Implementing solutions to child poverty in Canada
2004 report card on child poverty in Canada
[pdf, 12pp, 186KB]
November 24, 2004

Provincial Child Poverty Report Cards: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia
NOTE: click the link above to access current and historical poverty reports for all six provinces.
Campaign 2000

Food Banks Canada
Food Banks Canada is the national charitable organization representing and supporting the food banking community across Canada. Our membership and their respective agencies serve approximately 85% of people accessing essential food programs nationwide.

Selected site content:

Hunger Count 2011 (PDF - 4.2MB, 36 pages)
A comprehensive report on hunger and food bank use in Canada, and recommendations for change

Selected HungerCount Information 1999-2011 (Microsoft Excel 2007 file - 626K)

Chart : Food bank use in Canada (March 2011)
Food Banks Canada has released data detailing how many Canadians used food banks across the country in March 2011. Hover over the chart to read how many people used food banks in each province that month, and what percentage of those people were children.

Food Banks Canada
Food Banks Canada is the national charitable organization representing and supporting the food bank community across Canada. Our Members and their respective agencies serve approximately 85% of people accessing food banks and food programs nationwide. Our mission is to help food banks meet the short-term need for food, and to find long-term solutions to hunger.


Media coverage:

Food bank use stays high
November 1, 2011
Food bank use across Canada remained more than 25 per cent above pre-recession levels in March, the group representing food banks said Tuesday. Food Banks Canada said an annual survey of its members showed a slight decrease in the number of food recipients from the same month a year earlier — two per cent to 851,014 — but little change over all. The steady numbers show the effects of recession are still being felt across Canada, and the organization says that means economic recovery isn't working for everyone.
CBC News


Stretched food banks a measure of Canada’s frail recovery
By Tavia Grant
November 1, 2011
The number of Canadians using food banks has declined slightly, but persistent demand indicates many are struggling in a frail economic recovery. More than 851,000 individuals visited a food bank in March alone, a number that’s little changed from last year’s record and still 26 per cent above prerecession levels, Food Banks Canada’s annual survey, to be released Tuesday, shows.


Related Globe and Mail articles:

* Feed a student, feed the future
* Food bank use drops, but still higher than before recession
* It's time to close Canada's food banks

Globe and Mail

Fraser Institute - "Competitive Market Solutions for Public Policy Problems"
The Fraser Institute was founded in 1974 to redirect public attention to the role markets can play in providing for the economic and social well-being of Canadians.

NOTE: for more about the Fraser Institute, see the Canadian Social Research Links Social Research Organizations in Canada page.

BC Welfare Reform Receives a “B” : Province Leaps to Forefront of Intelligent Welfare Reform and Sets New Standard for Canadian Welfare
The Fraser Institute
October 21, 2002
"BC’s recently announced welfare reforms have catapulted it beyond any Canadian jurisdiction and into the realm of reform-minded US states such as Wisconsin, says a new report, Welfare Reform in British Columbia: A Report Card, released today by the Fraser Institute."

Welfare Reform in British Columbia: A Report Card (PDF file - 208K, 30 pages)

Fraser Institute - "Competitive Market Solutions for Public Policy Problems"

The Fraser Institute was founded in 1974 to redirect public attention to the role markets can play in providing for the economic and social well-being of Canadians.
Wow - it's not often that the conservative Fraser Institute is on the same wavelength as the British Columbia social advocacy community, but there ya go, folks.
Here's what authors Chris Schafer and Jason Clemens say about incentives to work:
"The government should move to immediately re-instate earnings exemptions as they existed prior to the change. Furthermore, the government should consider enhancing the opportunities to “make work pay” by extending earnings exemptions further."
"Hear, hear!" say the social advocates --- but then, the Fraser report also gives the BC government high marks for being the first Canadian jurisdiction to set a time limit to welfare eligibility regardless of personal circumstances or the economic situation --- definitely not a popular feature with those who work with and speak for the most disadvantaged in BC...
Re. Wisconsin:
Wisconsin Studies (W-2)
- The Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) of the University of Wisconsin has a section of its Welfare Reform website that includes links to over a dozen studies on the outcomes and impacts of welfare reform in Wisconsin. Pick one or two, read them and decide for yourself how successful Wisconsin's reforms have been...
Source : Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP)
Caveat :

"The welfare caseload composition of Canadian provincial welfare rolls and US state welfare rolls varies on a number of different levels. While female single- parent families comprise the bulk of US welfare caseloads, in Canada that figure is approximately 29 percent (CCSD, 1998). In addition, Canadian caseloads also consist of disabled persons, whereas in the US disabled persons fall under alternative support programs not categorized as “welfare.” - Footnote #4, page 25 [Fraser Institute report]

There are indeed a number of differences between the current Canadian and American social safety nets - certainly enough that the Fraser Institute should have considered posting the disclaimer/caveat just a bit more prominently.
For example...
- poor single people and childless couples in the U.S. can't even apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and states decide individually whether or not to grant residual welfare to applicants without dependants
- 35 percent of the total U.S. caseload is "child-only cases", i.e., kids outside the parental home (in Canada, the vast majority of these kids are covered by child protection)
Canadian welfare is broader than TANF plus the Food Stamp Program plus Medicaid...
- and so on.

Related Links (welfare in Canada and the U.S.):

Seventh Annual Report to Congress December 2006
Source :
Department of Health
and Human Services

Canadian equivalent to the 4th annual TANF report to Congress :
None. There is no requirement within the framework of the Canada Health and Social Transfer for a report by government to Parliament on the administration of the welfare portion of the CHST (or any other portion, for that matter) by provincial and territorial governments. Pity...

Other Canadian (national) welfare information resources:
Canadian Social Research Links Key Government Welfare Links Page
National Council of Welfare
Canadian Council on Social Development
Caledon Institute of Social Policy
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

The Georgia Straight (Vancouver weekly)

Sample content from The Georgia Straight:

B.C. Liberals shake up human-rights tribunal
The chair, Heather MacNaughton, will lose her post, causing some to worry about more changes to come

July 15, 2010
By Charlie Smith
The B.C. government has declined to reappoint the chair of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, Heather MacNaughton, as well as another tribunal member, Judith Parrack. This has some human-rights experts concerned about what this means for the future of the nine-member quasi-judicial body, which issues legally binding decisions.
The Georgia Strait

Mothers under siege
By Charlie Smith
June 7, 2007
"Some say the B.C. government has violated the human rights of single moms with its punitive social policies. (...) thousands of single parents across the province struggle with trying to earn a decent income, finding daycare, and ensuring their kids get a good start in life. But new data from Statistics Canada show that whereas the incomes of Vancouver single fathers have increased in recent years, the incomes of single mothers are in decline. This has some women’s rights and antipoverty activists claiming that B.C. Liberal government policies discriminate against single mothers, who are among the poorest citizens of the province. In a curious twist, the premier and the attorney general were both raised by single mothers.

It's a bad time to be poor
By Carlito Pablo
May 31, 2007
On May 7, the Impact of the Olympics on Community Coalition released a report urging the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) and its partners–the City of Vancouver and the British Columbia provincial government–to live up to their so-called Inner-City Inclusivity commitments. These include commitments to housing, environment, civil liberties, and transparency.

Critics slam welfare bump
By Carlito Pablo
March 1, 2007
Finance Minister Carole Tay­lor claims that the new budget ensures that all British Columbians share in the benefits of the province's thriving economy. Not by any stretch, counters the director of UBC's school of social work and family studies. Prof. Graham Riches told the Georgia Straight that there is something fundamentally flawed in the way the B.C. Liberal government carved the budget. “It's not a policy of redistribution,” he said. “It will prove inadequate.” Riches noted that the rich and middle class received $1.5 billion in tax cuts so that, according to the government, they'll have more money “to meet their housing challenges and help them with the high cost of housing in B.C.”. This amount constitutes three-quarters of the four-year $2 billion package, which the Liberals trumpeted as a housing legacy.

Related link:

Budget 2007
Government of British Columbia
February 20, 2007

The Globe and Mail

Selected media links:

Thousands of disabled denied legislated benefit, anti-poverty activists charge
By Brennan Clarke
July 5, 2011
Thousands of B.C. disability-assistance recipients are being denied the right to an extra $100 a month for volunteering in the community even though provincial legislation guarantees the benefit to all eligible applicants, a Victoria-based anti-poverty agency says.
Under the B.C. Employment and Assistance Act, welfare recipients who qualify as “persons with disabilities” are entitled to the extra $100 if they perform a minimum of 10 hours of volunteer work a month. Kelly Newhook, executive director of Together Against Poverty Society, said 5,000 people receive the $100 top-up on their benefits, but another 7,000 have applied and are on a waiting list because the province refuses to provide the funds to make the payments. Some applicants have been on the list for two years or more.



Provincial welfare program under strain
Number of two-parent families collecting assistance up 77 per cent compared to April of last year
By Justine Hunter
June 2, 2009
Just days after B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell launched a national campaign to broaden Canada's employment insurance scheme, new statistics show his provincial welfare program is under growing strain. And families are bearing the brunt of the recession in B.C., the new provincial statistics on income assistance show.

B.C. Premier demands single EI standard
By Patrick Brethour
May 30, 2009
The federal government needs to overhaul a “clearly discriminatory” employment insurance system to help the swelling ranks of the jobless in Western Canada, says British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. The Premier is adding his voice to the chorus pressing the federal government to rewrite the rulebook for employment insurance, and to create a single national standard for how long Canadians need to work before becoming eligible for payments. “Canadians are Canadians, and they should be treated equally,” he told The Globe and Mail. Right now, there are dramatic discrepancies in the EI system, with those in areas of historically low unemployment having to work more than twice as long to qualify for payments as those in regions with the highest levels of joblessness. That means it's much more likely for laid-off workers in such low-unemployment areas to fall short of qualifying for EI, even though a similar worker in a more disadvantaged area would receive payments.

Ottawa and the provinces must extend a helping hand to workers
We need to eliminate regional discrepancies and co-operate to extend EI benefits
By Gordon Campbell (Premier of British Columbia)
May 29. 2009
With all of the discussion these days about employment insurance reforms, it is timely to consider affordable improvements that will assist families and unemployed individuals who are struggling to get through this global recession. First, we need to eliminate the regional discrepancies in eligibility rules that are particularly unfair to Western Canadians. (...) Second, we need to find an affordable way of extending EI benefits to help workers who have either recently exhausted their benefits or who are about to lose their EI income. This could be achieved through a new cost-sharing partnership between the federal and provincial governments that would redirect some provincial income assistance funding to help the federal government fund extended EI benefits. (...) Provincial governments can be part of the solution by offering to partner with the federal government in extending individuals' maximum EI benefits. Instead of making income assistance payments to those people, they could offer to transfer that funding to the federal government to help fund the cost of extended EI benefits. (...) The federal government and provinces should work in partnership to do the best we can for all of Canada's workers, regardless of where they live or are employed. They pay equivalent national taxes and all should receive equivalent national benefits. We must unite in providing Canadians more effective support as we move through these trying times.

Related links --- Go to the Employment Insurance Links page :

Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society

Homelessness Research Virtual Library (University of British Columbia)
"The homelessness research virtual library was created in response to a call from stakeholders for easier access to homelessness research information. The Virtual Library website provides immediate access to past and current homelessness research from the province of British Columbia and the Yukon. The project is a partnership between the University of British Columbia, Human Resources Development Canada and Shelter Net BC.
- this site offers links to 80+ abstracts and full reports, mostly dealing with the BC situation, that you can search by : Author - Organization - Title - Location of Research - Publication Year - Subjects (Population) - Subjects (Keywords) - Subjects (Research Type) - List All Documents.
Source / Related Links:
University of British Columbia
Shelter Net BC

Hospital Employees' Union of British Columbia - "representing 46,000 front-line health care workers in hospitals, long-term care facilities and community agencies in British
Columbia, Canada. Affiliated with CUPE.

Ownership Matters: Lessons from Ontario's Long-Term Care Facilities
"On May 27, 2002 the Ontario Health Coalition released Ownership Matters: Lessons from Ontario's Long-Term Care Facilities. This is a report prepared for the Hospital Employees' Union of British Columbia by the OHC which examines the effect of the Ontario Tory government's privatization of Long Term Care on the quality of care and patients."
Complete report (25 printed pages)
Source: Ontario Health Coalition
Related Links:
Media Release
Ontario Health Coalition Report Paints Disturbing Picture of Ontario’s Privatized Long Term Care
Ontario Health Coalition
May 27, 2002
Source : DAWN DisAbled Women's Network - Ontario

Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP)

Young parents squeezed for time and money, report finds
A University of British Columbia study found that it's much more expensive to raise a family than it was a generation ago.
October 18, 2011
By Andrea Gordon
Canadian parents are raising children with far less money and time than their baby boomer predecessors, despite the doubling of the Canadian economy since 1976, says a report from the University of British Columbia. At the same time, Canadians approaching retirement are wealthier than ever before, setting up an intergenerational tension that threatens young families, according to the study, released Tuesday.
Toronto Star

The report from the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP)
at the University of British Columbia:

Does Canada work for all generations?
By Paul Kershaw and Lynell Anderson
October 18, 2011
Related resources:

* New Deal for Families blog
* YouTube video "New Deal for Families"

Human Early Learning Partnership
The Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) is a collaborative, interdisciplinary research network, based at the University of British Columbia. HELP’s unique partnership brings together many scientific viewpoints to address complex early child development (ECD) issues. HELP connects researchers and practitioners from communities and institutions across B.C., Canada, and internationally.
[ University of British Columbia ]

The Information Partnership
The Information Partnership provides innovative and practical solutions for private-, public-, and voluntary-sector organizations wanting to become more efficient and effective in the way they develop, deliver and evaluate their operations.

Information Services Vancouver
Information Services Vancouver (ISV) is British Columbia's largest provider of information and referral (I&R) services - a citizens' link to thousands of community, social, and government agencies across the province.

Red Book : Directory of Services for the Lower Mainland
This is the most comprehensive online guide to community, social, and government services available across the Lower Mainland. It is considered by many professionals working in the human services field to be the "Bible" of community resources. This is a detailed A-to-Z listing of over 4,000 community,social, and government agencies and programs, including e-mail and Web site addresses.

HINT: Click The Red Book Online (in the left margin of the page) to access the list via a search page.

"JobWaveBC is brought to you by WCG International Consultants Ltd. - people who know BC’s job scene and what it takes to get those quality jobs…fast. Our successful jobs programs have now assisted over 11,000 British Columbians to find great jobs.
(...) Based in Victoria, British Columbia. WCG International Consultants Ltd. delivers community and provincial employment programs, as well as progressive, internet-based solutions to employment and hiring, and proprietary technology business solutions."
- incl. links to information for job seekers and employers

Kamloops Daily News

Selected site content:

B.C. looks to send welfare recipients north for job training
March 13, 2012
By Cam Fortems
The B.C. Liberal government is developing a program to move employable people on welfare to northern B.C., where they will be trained and housed. B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon mentioned the program under development Tuesday during a budget-style speech to the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce. While details are not yet available, Falcon said in an interview with reporters that government is developing a welfare-to-work program. "We're working across government to put together a package to find a way to fly them up to where work is, provide accommodation and training, if necessary, and put them into high-paying jobs."

Back to the Future...(?)

From The Canadian Encyclopedia:

Unemployment Relief Camps
In October 1932, at the end of the third year of the Great Depression, and on the recommendation of Maj-Gen A.G.L. MCNAUGHTON, chief of the general staff, PM BENNETT sanctioned the creation of a nationwide system of camps to house and provide work for single, unemployed, homeless Canadian males. The camps were placed under the Department of NATIONAL DEFENCE in consultation with the Department of Labour, and staffed with civilians. Occupants voluntarily entered the camps through the Employment Service of Canada and were free to leave at any time. In return for bunkhouse residence, 3 meals a day, work clothes, medical care and 20 cents a day, the "Royal Twenty Centers" worked 44-hr weeks clearing bush, building roads, planting trees and constructing public buildings. Critics argued that the federal government had established the camps in lieu of a reasonable program of work and wages*. The most dramatic demonstration of this resentment occurred in Apr 1935, when 1500 men from BC camps went on strike and after 2 months' agitation in Vancouver set forth on the abortive ON TO OTTAWA TREK. By the time the camps were closed in June 1936, they had been home for 170,248 men who had been provided 10 201 103 man-days of relief.
* Bolding added to highlight the Back to the Future creepiness factor...

Unemployment Relief Camps

The Canadian Encyclopedia

The Law Centre

Law Courts Education Society of BC
The Law Courts Education Society is a non-profit organization providing educational programs and services about the justice system in Canada and British Columbia. Materials are designed to help the public understand how the justice system works and to help those people working within the system to better understand the justice-related issues that different people in the communities face.

Legal Services Society (LSS)

This site contains:
- information about legal aid in BC,
- information about the Legal Services Society (LSS) and its services, including LawLINE (toll-free hotline for people in BC that provides information, referrals and legal advice)

Other websites maintained by the Legal Services Society:

Family Law in British Columbia
"This site contains:
- self-help materials to help you with your legal problem
- links to people and places where you can get more legal help or information
- general information about family law."

- incl. links to info about the following areas of law in BC : Aboriginal - Consumer and Debt - Crime - Family - Housing - Immigration and Refugee - Legal Help - Pensions and Benefits - Welfare - Wills and Trusts - Work
NOTE: the Welfare section includes information about : Appeals, Applying for Welfare, Disability Benefits, Health Benefits, Problems with Welfare

Electronic Law Library
- detailed legal information, including laws, statutes, court rules and decisions, and parliamentary proceedings

BC Supreme Court Self-Help Information Centre website
- information about the court system and court procedures
- information about the law and alternatives to court
- links to legal advice services

ELAN - Electronic Legal Aid Newsletter
Elan is an electronic newsletter of the Legal Services Society e-mailed once a month to community stakeholders who choose to receive this service.
The first issue, dated July 2005, includes the following content:
Family Duty Counsel Services Now in Supreme Courts - LSS Launches Multilingual Call Centre/LawLINE Scripts - Outreach Services for Your Organization - Hot off the Press from LSS - Bookmark These Sites


Selected LSS site content:

Your Welfare Rights : A Guide to
BC Employment and Income Assistance
(PDF - 3.4MB, 180 pages)
Twenty-Second edition, 2012
Explains who is eligible for welfare, how to apply for welfare, what benefits are available, your responsibilities while on welfare, how to appeal a decision about your benefits, and how to get more information or help.

June 24, 2010
The New Public Commission on Legal Aid Wants to Hear From You

Public commission on legal aid formed in B.C.
By Gary Oakes
July 9, 2010
Six of the major players on the British Columbia law stage have formed an organization they hope will find solutions to the continuing crisis in legal aid throughout the province. “Access to justice is one of the cornerstones of our society,” Stephen McPhee told The Lawyers Weekly. “It is as essential a service as health care and education." (...) He’s vice-president of the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association (CBABC) and chair of the steering committee that is overseeing the newly-minted Public Commission on Legal Aid (PCLA). It will hold meetings around the province this fall to hear from ordinary people and stakeholders on what’s wrong with the system and then produce problem-solving recommendations to the provincial government. The commission is jointly funded by CBABC, the Law Society of B.C., the Law Foundation of B.C., the B.C. Crown Counsel Association (BCCCA), the Vancouver Bar Association and the Victoria Bar Association.
The Lawyers Weekly
"Serving Canada's Legal Community Since 1983"

A timeline of cuts to BC legal aid (from 2002 to April 2010)
Posted January 25, 2010


Legal Aid Changes Planned for 2010 (PDF - 285K, 3 pages)
Media Release
November 3, 2009
VANCOUVER – The Legal Services Society, which oversees legal aid throughout the province, will be changing its operations in five communities next year. Effective April 1, 2010, the Society will replace its regional centres in Kamloops, Prince George, Kelowna, Surrey and Victoria with local agents and an expanded, province-wide call centre.

Earlier this year...

Service and operational changes (PDF - 371K, 5 pages)
Feb. 25, 2009
The Legal Services Society (LSS or the society) will be changing some services and some of its operations this year. These changes are necessary because the society’s current government and non-government revenues are insufficient to cover the current demand for legal aid.
BC Legal Services Society

Livable Income For Everyone
Livable Income For Everyone (LIFE) is an organization started in British Columbia in 2003 to promote the implementation of universal guaranteed livable income in every country in the world.
- incl. links to: What - Why - How - News - Articles - Gallery - Tools - Letters - Links

Selected site content:

* What is a Guaranteed Livable Income?
* News - links to 90 articles, studies and reports
* Links - over 150 links to relevant sites

On Basic Income: Interview with Götz Werner
German Millionaire is super advocate for basic income

Posted in die tageszeitung / translated 12/09
Götz Werner, founder of major drugstore chain (1700 stores), is one of the most influential advocates of basic income in Germany. Werner is not only a super advocate for guaranteed income, he is also one of the top 500 richest people in Germany.

Why the United States should implement Basic Income
By Sam Alexander
October 2009
Welfare, food stamps, and homeless shelters (...) explicitly stratify society into classes, enforcing the obsolete notion that the man who doesn't do labor is a less valuable member of society. This is why Basic Income should be absolutely universal- even Warren Buffett and Bill Gates must be given automatic "welfare", for only then can the dole rise above its condescending, humiliating nature.

Economic Foundations and Environmental Progress
By Alexander Bishop
November 2009
(...) The more efficient and technologically advanced the culture, the fewer people they need working. The economy rewards technological stagnation in labour-saving devices and designed obsolescence. The economy suffers when we are healthier, greener, and consume less. The solution is a movement away from job dependant monetary circulation to a guaranteed livable income. This will allow positive change to occur without causing job losses leaving people unable to meet their basic needs.

[ other articles on the LIFE site - 60+ links ]

- Go to the Guaranteed Annual Income Links page:

Mental Health Commission of Canada

At Home/Chez Soi
[ Version française du site ]
The At Home/Chez Soi research demonstration project is investigating mental health and homelessness in five Canadian cities: Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. A total of 2285 homeless people living with a mental illness will participate. 1,325 people from that group will be given a place to live, and will be offered services to assist them over the course of the initiative. The remaining participants will receive the regular services that are currently available in their cities.

As of February, 2011 - over 1,600 people have become project participants, and over 700 now have homes. The overall goal is to provide evidence about what services and systems could best help people who are living with a mental illness and are homeless. At the same time, the project will provide meaningful and practical support for hundreds of vulnerable people.

The five participating cities (dead links):
Moncton - Montreal
- Toronto - Winnipeg -

Mental Health Commission of Canada

Metro Vancouver
Metro Vancouver comprises four separate corporate entities operating under one name;
it includes 22 member municipalities and one electoral area.

During the 1990's homelessness emerged as a major issue in communities across Canada. In Metro Vancouver, homelessness continues to be a complex and growing problem. The 2005 Homeless Count for Greater Vancouver showed that homelessness in the region doubled between 2002 and 2005. The Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness (RSCH) formed and now includes over 40 members representing service providers, community-based organizations, business and all levels of government. The RSCH developed and oversees the implementation of the Regional Homelessness Plan for Greater Vancouver.


From the
Greater Vancouver Regional
Steering Committee on Homelessness:

2011 Homeless Count Report Finds Some Progress
but Increase in Family, Women and Youth Homelessness
(dead links)
February 29, 2012
Today, The Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee (RSCH) on Homelessness released One Step Forward… Results of 2011 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count. This final Homeless Count report indicates that the total homeless population in Metro Vancouver was virtually unchanged at 2,650 in 2011 compared to 2,660 people counted in 2008. Those who reported being unsheltered decreased dramatically by 52%. (...) The Homeless Count also revealed that within the homeless population there was a sharp rise in the number of families with children, women and unaccompanied youth.
Aboriginal people comprise about 2% of the general population of Metro Vancouver but they remain overrepresented at 27% of homeless people enumerated that day.

Complete report:

One Step Forward…
Results of 2011 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count
(PDF - 1.8MB, 79 pages)
The 2011 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count was commissioned by the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness (RSCH) to update the number of homeless people in the region, the demographic profile of those surveyed or enumerated on Count Day, and trends on the nature and character of homelessness with reference to the three previous Counts in 2002, 2005 and 2008. (Source : Executive Summary - p.8)

Media backgrounder (PDF - 32K, 2 pages)
February 28, 2012
- includes Key Findings and About the Homeless Count

Greater Vancouver Regional
Steering Committee on Homelessness:
The Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness (RSCH) is a coalition of community organizations and all levels of government.
Our Vision is to eliminate homelessness in Greater Vancouver through the full implementation of the Regional Homelessness Plan: Three Ways to Home. you'll find a link to that plan on the "Homelessness in Vancouver" page [ ] on the Vancouver (city) website, along with links to over a dozen related reports.

From the
National Council of Welfare (NCW):

NOTE : The National Council of Welfare closed its doors and shut down its website at the end of September 2012.
For more information, see

The links to the three reports below are functional because the files are copied to my web server.

Over the years, the Council has produced many reports on poverty and welfare, but there are three that stand out in my mind as milestone reports on the history of welfare in Canada, at least since the 1980s.

1. 1987
Welfare in Canada: The Tangled Safety Net
(PDF - 2.7MB, 131 pages)
November 1987
Tangled Safety Net examines the following issues in Canadian social assistance network of programs:
* Complex rules * Needs-testing * Rates of assistance * Enforcement * Appeals * Recommendations
This report is the first comprehensive national analysis of social assistance programs operated by the provincial, territorial and municipal governments. These programs function as the safety net for Canadians and are better known by their everyday name ‘welfare’.

Version française :
Le bien-être social au Canada : Un filet de sécurité troué (PDF - 3Mo., 138 pages)
Novembre 1987
[ NOTA : Si vous trouvez un lien vers ce fichier en français, veuillez communiquer avec moi pour le partager.
Merci! ]


2. 1992
Welfare Reform
(PDF - 2.8MB, 61 pages)
Summer 1992
This report is an update of the 1987 Tangled Safety Net, but it presents information by jurisdiction rather than by issue - covers all provinces and territories.

Version française:
Réforme du bien-être social (PDF - 3,5Mo., 63 pages)


3. 1997
Another Look at Welfare Reform
(PDF - 6.75MB, 134 pages)
Autumn 1997
- an in-depth analysis of changes in Canadian welfare programs in the 1990s. The report focuses on the provincial and territorial reforms that preceded the repeal of the Canada Assistance Plan and those that followed the implementation of the Canada Health and Social Transfer in April 1996.
[Proactive disclosure : I did the research for, and wrote the provincial-territorial section of, this report while I was on a one-year secondment to the Council. Gilles ]

Version française:
Un autre regard sur la réforme du bien-être social (PDF - 8Mo., 148 pages)


Companion document to
Another Look:

Overview of Provincial (and Territorial)
Welfare Reforms in the 1990s

October 1998
Fifteen pages of research notes used in the production of Another Look at Welfare Reform.
HINT: There's a WEALTH of information on provincial-territorial welfare reforms in these pages that didn't make it to the final report!


National Council of Welfare
Established in 1969, the Council is an advisory group to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (originally the Minister of Health and Welfare Canada). The mandate of the Council is to advise the Minister regarding any matter relating to social development that the Minister may refer to the Council for its consideration or that the Council considers appropriate.

October 6 (2012)
The National Council of Welfare closed its doors and shut down its website at the end of September 2012.
For more information, see

New Westminster

April 28, 2010
New Westminster BC Enacts Canada's First Living Wage Bylaw

For a collection of links to information about this progressive initiative in BC and the living wage movement in general,
go to the Living Wage Links section of the Canadian Social Research Links Minimum Income / Living Wage Links

Red Tent 2010 - Housing is a Right
Red Tent is national campaign that invites the participation of all persons and organizations wishing to end homelessness in Canada. Our goal is to persuade the federal government to enact a funded National Housing Strategy that will end homelessness and ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for all persons living in Canada.

2010 Olympics Oppressometer
The “2010 Oppressometer” is an online tool developed to monitor civil liberties during the Olympic period. The site is a tongue-in-cheek take on the US Homeland Security threat levels, documenting civil liberty concerns in the months leading up to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The Oppressometer is a project of COPE, the Coalition of Progressive Electors. For forty years, COPE has been a democratic, community-based coalition of individuals and organizations.
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE)

NOT the mainstream media:

* 2010 Olympic coverage from The Tyee

* 2010 Olympic coverage from The Georgia Strait

For more selected Olympic coverage, go to the
Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Poverty Olympics 2010 Links page:

Peace, Earth and Justice News

British Columbians double-crossed over MSP contract with American corporation : B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union
vows to continue legal action to stop the government from handing over personal medical information to American-linked companies
November 4, 2004
"'British Columbians have been double-crossed,' said George Heyman, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU). 'The health services minister promised that a contract negotiated with Maximus corporation would ensure the privacy of British Columbians would not be compromised. Less than a week after the privacy commissioner confirmed in his report that the USA Patriot Act is a real threat to the privacy of British Columbians, the Campbell Liberals are rushing in to sign, seal and deliver a deal!'"

Pivot Legal Society
Pivot Legal Society is a non-profit legal advocacy organization located in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Pivot's mandate is to use the law to address the root causes of poverty and social exclusion. Our name is metaphor for our approach to social change - by making the most tangible violations of human rights the focal point of our efforts, we exert maximum pressure in order to shift society toward greater equality and inclusivity.

Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) - British Columbia
Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) is a non-profit organization, established in 1989 by and for families committed to future planning and securing a good life for their relative with a disability. (...) Our goal is twofold: to ensure a safe and secure future for your relative with a disability and, in the process, to provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind. In pursuit of this goal we're inspired by a simple but powerful vision: the vision of a good life for all people with disabilities and their families.
- incl. links to:
* About PLAN * Plan for a Good Life * Get Involved * Resources * Public Policy * Photos & Stories

PLAN Affiliates
- contact and (where available) website URL for organizations in BC, Alberta, Sakatchewan, Ontario and Quebec as well as Redmon (Washington), Boulder (Colorado) and Phoenix (Arizona) that are affiliated with PLAN.


Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP*)
The Registered Disability Savings Plan is a savings plan designed specifically for people with disabilities in Canada. The first of its kind in the world, this new tax-deferred savings vehicle will assist families in planning for the long - term financial security of their relatives with disabilities.
- incl. links to * What is it? * How do I qualify * Where do I get it?
[ Registered Disability Savings Plan Blog- "...everything you wanted to know about the RDSP" ]
* (PLAN is the non-profit organization that proposed, researched, and campaigned for the RDSP.
PLAN created and maintains the RDSP website and the RDSP Blog.


New Ingredients for the Fiscal Pie
December 2003
By Sherri Torjman
"...argues the need for exploring possible methods of expanding the ‘fiscal pie.’ It explores one possible model put forward by PLAN (Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network), a group of parents of children with severe disabilities. The group proposes a combination of private savings and public spending to help develop caring communities. (...) The proposal represents one idea in a range of possible savings and investment mechanisms to expand the fiscal pie – a direction which we should be debating seriously as a nation."
Complete report (PDF file - 19K, 3 pages)
Caledon Institute of Social Policy

Web Search Results:
"Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network"


Policy Note - a progressive take on BC issues
Policy Note delivers timely, progressive commentary on issues that affect British Columbians, including the economy, poverty, inequality, climate change, provincial budgets, taxes, public services, employment and much more. Contributors include staff and research associates from the BC Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Poverty and Human Rights Centre (Canada, International, United Nations, etc.)
Centre Directors: Gwen Brodsky, Shelagh Day
(formerly the Poverty and Human Rights Project)
"The Poverty and Human Rights Centre is committed to eradicating poverty and promoting social and economic equality through human rights.
The Library is a searchable database of materials related to social and economic rights. It includes texts of relevant international human rights treaties, Canadian and other laws, court decisions, legal briefs, and articles.
To use the library, go to buttons at the top of the page (topics, documents, resources).
Factum Library What's new
The Factum Library section contains factums, pleadings and other litigation documents from selected Canadian human rights cases. The materials are organized by case name, articles, and date.
- incl. links to :
Recently added links - Contact Us - About the Centre - Centre Publications

Human Rights Denied (PDF file - 93K, 2 pages)
B.C. Government Discriminates
Against Poor Single Mothers – report
Press Release
April 28, 2005
"Vancouver - Four constitutional and human rights experts are issuing a report today that condemns the Government of British Columbia for its treatment of single mothers on social assistance. Shelagh Day, Margot Young, Melina Buckley and Gwen Brodsky conclude in Human Rights Denied that single mothers are discriminated against by the B.C. Government."

Complete report:

Human Rights Denied:
Single Mothers on Social Assistance in British Columbia
(PDF file - 524K, 59 pages)
April 2005
By Gwen Brodsky, Melina Buckley, Shelagh Day, and Margot Young

Poverty and Human Rights Centre (Vancouver)

PovNet is an online resource for advocates, people on welfare, and community groups and individuals involved in anti-poverty work. It provides up-to-date information about resources in British Columbia and Canada. PovNet links to current anti-poverty issues and also provides links to other anti-poverty organizations and resources in Canada and internationally. PovNet is a clearinghouse of information necessary to address issues of anti-poverty. Regulations and laws can change so quickly it is difficult to know if the information you are using is up-to-date. PovNet strives to keep advocates and those who may be experiencing difficulty with the social service system informed.
[ Source : About PovNet ]

News - Anti-poverty & poverty related news stories, current events, reports & press releases.

Regional - View news, resources government info & links sorted by territory or province.

Online resources - Links to government websites, policies, acts, regulations & many other useful websites organized by issue (same as above) and by location (links to provincial/territorial resources, U.S. and other international links)

Issues Page - links to information on a wide range of subjects, including the following :
* Aboriginal/First Nations * Art/Culture * Blogs * Children & Youth * Consumer/Debt * Disability * Education * Family * Foodbanks & Food * Government Policy * Health * Homelessness * Housing * Human Rights * Immigrants & Refugees * Legal Aid * Legal Research * LGBTQ * Media * Mental Health * Organizing * Panhandling * People of Colour * Poorbashing * Poverty Research * Prisoners' Rights * Seniors/Elders * Technology * Tenants' Rights * Unemployment * Utilities * Violence * Welfare * Women * Worker's Rights

Links to Anti-Poverty/Poverty Blogs - links to over three dozen blogs from BC, from Toronto, from Fredericton, from Montreal, etc.

News - Anti-poverty & poverty related news stories, current events, reports & press releases


Selected PovNet site content:

Homelessness in Canada:
Interview with Penny Goldsmith of PovNet
June 2010
Transcript of the interview (HTML)

Penny Goldsmith is the Executive Coordinator of PovNET in Vancouver, BC. PovNet provides online tools that facilitate communication, community and access to information around poverty-related issues in British Columbia and Canada. They work to collect relevant news and resources of use to advocates, community workers, marginalized communities and the general public.
The Homeless Hub
Building on the success of the Canadian Conference on Homelessness (2005), the Homeless Hub was created to address the need for a single place to find homelessness information from across Canada. Launched in 2007, the Homeless Hub is a web-based research library and information center representing an innovative step forward in the use of technology to enhance knowledge mobilization and networking.

Related links:

PovNet provides online tools that facilitate communication, community and access to information around poverty-related issues in British Columbia and Canada. We work to collect relevant news and resources of use to advocates, community workers, marginalized communities and the general public.


Poverty and protest: the media focus on the Vancouver Olympics
February 9, 2010
As media from around the country and around the world focus on Vancouver and the Winter Olympics, they are publishing stories about poverty, homelessness and protest. PovNet has prepared a collection of links to some of the stories published over the last few days.
[Click the link above to access all of the articles below.]
* Winter Olympics on slippery slope after Vancouver crackdown on homeless | The Guardian
* In the Shadow of the Olympics | The New York Times
* Give A Home to Us Not The Olympics, Say Protesters | The New York Times
* Vancouver's 'Poverty Olympics' Protest Millions Spent On Winter Games | The Huffington Post
* Vancouver's poor protest against Olympic largesse | ABC News
* Estimates of Olympic protests increase as Vancouver Games approach | CP
* Activists stage 'Poverty Olympics' in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside | The Vancouver Sun
* Stop civil obedience: Fight the Games | The Vancouver Sun
* The Vancouver Olympic Blues | Dave Zirin
* Protesters target Olympic torch run | CBC
* End poverty. It's not a game: The Poverty Olympics | Rabble
* When Snow Melts: Vancouver’s Olympic Crackdown | The Nation
* Vancouver Olympic blues | RussianToday (video)
* Vancouver Tries To Polish 'Skid Road' For Olympics | NPR (radio


A timeline of cuts to BC legal aid
January 25, 2010
Timeline and backgrounder on the cuts to legal aid in BC culled from various press releases and news articles.

Related link:

Access to Justice
- campaign to restore funding to legal aid in BC and to stop the cutbacks to the Legal Services Society
- incl. links to press releases, news, petitions and more


Research Report - Ministry of Human Resources Exit Survey Results *
(PDF file - 48K, 7 pages)
Ministry of Human Resources
October 11, 2002
* January 9/09 Update
- The link to this report is dead, but I'm leaving it in because of the relevant content.
Try copying the title into a search box
- this is the first in a series of quarterly reports on the activities and experiences of people who have left income assistance.
- "[t]he information comes from interviews of 1,833 individuals who received income assistance in September 2001, and who did not return to income assistance (IA) before the sampling date in April 2002. The survey found that almost 97% of the cases left IA to either work, attend school, for other income, or because of a change in family or financial status. More than 50% left income assistance for work, while 35% left to attend school or training."
Survey Questions (PDF file - 65K, 16 pages)

Editorial Comment:
The number of completed surveys (1,833) represents just under 33% of the total "cohort" (the group of people who left IA after September 2001 and hadn't returned by April 2002), which was 5,578. The report says that the main reason others (over 2,200 people) didn't participate was because their contact numbers were found to be "Not In Service", showing "that many people move when they leave income assistance." Studies of welfare reforms since the mid-nineties in Alberta by the Canada West Foundation and by the municipal governments of Ottawa and Toronto in Ontario have shown that when they leave social assistance during welfare reforms, many people simply cannot afford a telephone...
I don't know exit surveys very much, but I'm not inclined to assume that the survey results apply to the entire cohort, because the 66% who didn't reply would have been those (in my humble opinion) who would be least likely to be in a job, in school or in a training program.
Lies, damn lies, and surveys...


Pro Bono Net BC - "Linking Lawyers with communities for the public good"
"Pro Bono Law of BC built this site to support pro bono work by BC lawyers and to make legal services as accessible as possible.
Pro Bono Law of BC is a non-profit society formed in 2002 with funding from the Law Foundation of BC to promote, coordinate and facilitate the delivery of pro bono legal services in BC."
["Pro bono comes from the Latin term, pro bono publico, for the good of the public. Our definition of pro bono: “Free legal services for persons of limited means or not-for-profit organizations"]
Law Foundation of British Columbia
"The Law Foundation of B.C. is a non-profit foundation created by legislation to receive and distribute the interest on clients' funds held in lawyers' pooled trust accounts maintained in financial institutions."

Related Link:
Pro Bono Net - U.S.
"The mission of Pro Bono Net is simple. First, use information technology to increase the amount and quality of legal services provided to low-income individuals and communities by the public interest/pro bono lawyers. Second, create a virtual community of public interest lawyers that bridges private, legal services, and academic sectors of the profession and that serves as a model for similar networks in other legal communities."

Progressive Economics blog

Take Two: BC Budget 2009 September Update
By Marc Lee
September 1, 2009
The September BC Budget is a new look at a budget most have come to see as a fake. February’s budget was not passed through the legislature due to the May election, and up to E-Day the government maintained the fiction that it had a small-ish deficit of just under half a billion dollars. Since that time, the government has moved out of denial about the recession and revealed that it could not in fact meet its deficit target, accompanied by loud noises about expenditure cuts through the summer.
Progressive Economics blog
NOTE: for links to the September 2009 BC Budget Update and analysis of those measures,
go to the 2009 Canadian Government Budgets Links page:

Public Commission on Legal Aid

British Columbia coalition launches legal aid commission (dead link)
June 28, 2010
Concerns over cuts to legal aid services in B.C. have prompted a coalition of justice groups to launch a public examination of the system. The Public Commission on Legal Aid will visit 10 B.C. communities this fall to gather input from British Columbians in order to make recommendations to the provincial government. The commission is a joint project of several groups, including the Law Society of B.C., the Vancouver Bar Association and the Canadian Bar Association's B.C. branch.
CBC British Columbia

The Public Commission on Legal Aid has been established and is supported by the following six funding partners:
* Canadian Bar Association - BC Branch
* Law Society of British Columbia
* Law Foundation of British Columbia
* British Columbia Crown Counsel Association
* Vancouver Bar Association
* Victoria Bar Association

Related links:

June 24, 2010
The New Public Commission on Legal Aid Wants to Hear From You

Public commission on legal aid formed in B.C.
By Gary Oakes
July 9, 2010
Six of the major players on the British Columbia law stage have formed an organization they hope will find solutions to the continuing crisis in legal aid throughout the province. “Access to justice is one of the cornerstones of our society,” Stephen McPhee told The Lawyers Weekly. “It is as essential a service as health care and education." (...) He’s vice-president of the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association (CBABC) and chair of the steering committee that is overseeing the newly-minted Public Commission on Legal Aid (PCLA). It will hold meetings around the province this fall to hear from ordinary people and stakeholders on what’s wrong with the system and then produce problem-solving recommendations to the provincial government. The commission is jointly funded by CBABC, the Law Society of B.C., the Law Foundation of B.C., the B.C. Crown Counsel Association (BCCCA), the Vancouver Bar Association and the Victoria Bar Association.
The Lawyers Weekly
"Serving Canada's Legal Community Since 1983"

A timeline of cuts to BC legal aid (from 2002 to April 2010)
Posted January 25, 2010

Raise the Rates
Raise the Rates is a coalition of community groups and organisations concerned with the level of poverty and homelessness in British Columbia. In 2002, the provincial government cut welfare rates and introduced arbitrary barriers that keep people in need from getting help. Since then, homelessness has at least doubled and BC has more people living below the poverty line than any other province in Canada.

Selected site content:

Raise the Rates:

October 16, 2013
Second Annual Welfare Food Challenge: Hungry for a Welfare Raise
The Welfare Food Challenge will start on Wednesday, October 16, World Food Day. We are inviting British Columbians to eat only what they can purchase based on what welfare recipients receive for one week (October 16 to October 22). Welfare Food Challenge participants will be expected to live on only the food they can purchase with $26 dollars.


October 2012:
First Annual Welfare Food Challenge:
Comments and observations by participants
at the end of the First Welfare Food Challenge


"About a month ago a coalition of some of BC’s leading antipoverty, food, health and social policy organizations invited the CBC to host a day of discussion around the theme of a BC ‘Right to Food Day’ to coincide with this year’s World Food Day. Unfortunately the CBC declined this invitation to be part of a public discussion."

Raise the Rates Letter to the CBC (small PDF file):
August 29,2013

Reply from the CBC (small PDF file)
September 13, 2013

Related link:

Welfare Food Challenge website
This autumn we issued the Welfare Food Challenge, inviting people in British Columbia to live on the amount of money a person on welfare has to purchase food for a week – $26. The Dietitians of Canada in their report The Cost of Eating in BC in 2011 point out that the cost of basic healthy food is more that the total amount of money that welfare provides for all subsistence – food, personal hygiene, clothes, travel, etc.

Raise the Rates
Raise the Rates is a coalition of community groups and organizations concerned with the level of poverty and homelessness in British Columbia.


The Cost of Eating in BC : 2011 (PDF - 4.7MB, 16 pages)
Dietitians of Canada


Cost of Poverty in BC: Huge Human Suffering and at least $4 Billion
June 28, 2012
Poverty in BC is the worst in Canada with 1 in 9 people in poverty and 1 in 5 children under the age of 6 living in poverty. BC also has the worst inequality gap between the richest and poorest 20% of the population. Poverty and inequality cause immense human suffering and harms individuals, families and society.
On Tuesday, June 26, over 130 people crowded into a meeting to discuss the Cost of Poverty in BC, which was hosted by Raise the Rates. A panel of experts, both from life and research, movingly outlined some of the many costs.
- includes contributions by the following:
* Harold Lavender, a person living on disability
* Colleen Boudreau, a mother on disability
* Carol Martin, an Aboriginal women working with the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
* Charan Gill, of Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society
* Fraser Stuart, living on welfare
* Robin Loxton, with the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities
* Colleen McGuire, author of the Cost of Eating in BC
* Ted Bruce, an expert on public health
* Adrienne Montani of First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition
* Iglika Ivanova, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)
* Seth Klein, Director of CCPA's BC Office
The total package of raising income, providing universal child care, building houses, etc would cost around $4 billion dollars which is half the cost of poverty. Ending poverty in BC is sound economic policy and good social policy; it would make BC a better place to live and a province to be proud of.

Raise the Rates
Raise the Rates is a coalition of community groups and organizations concerned with the level of poverty and homelessness in British Columbia


British Columbia MLA Welfare Challenge Update
Tuesday, February 1, after a last night ‘couch surfing’ in Surrey, BC MLA Jagrup Brar ended his month of living on the welfare rate of $610. He lost 26 pounds in weight, ended up $7 in debt and had to sell his backpack to have enough money to take the Skytrain back to his home in Surrey.

Jagrup’s latest blog posts

Jean Swanson of Raise the Rates interviews Jagrup Brar (PDF - 52K, 4 pages)

British ColumbiaWelfare Fact Sheet (140K, 12 pages)
PDF file date: January 16, 2012
At the end of May 2011 Raise the Rates launched the ‘MLA Welfare Challenge’. This challenged one or more of BC's MLAs to live on welfare for a month to gain real life experience of living on welfare. For the month of January, 2012, Jagrup Brar (MLA Surrey Fleetwood) will live on the single person’s welfare rate of $610 for everything. Raise the Rates’ experience is that people cannot live a healthy life on welfare. A key part of any poverty reduction strategy, a policy aim that all BC MLAs say they support, is raising welfare. This fact sheet provides information on the position of people on welfare in BC in November 2011.
- twelve pages of BC welfare information including :
* Who Gets Welfare ("In November 2011 a total of 178,128 people in BC live on welfare")
* Recession Hits (impacts of the 2008-2009 recession)
* Welfare Rates and Poverty (average wages, poverty lines and welfare incomes)
* The Maze and Obstacle Course of Welfare (Who can qualify? - Barriers to Welfare and Getting Back to Work)
* Welfare and Housing
* Support Payments and Other Necessities
* Single Parent Families cannot afford to Live or raise Healthy Children
* Welfare Doesn’t cover cost of Living and Housing
* Cost of Food and Living
* Punishing Children (Welfare lone parents not allowed child support from former partners
* Historic Welfare rates since 1980 (BC's welfare rate for a single person in 2012 is $610 monthly; if this amount were adjusted for inflation, the same person would receive $930 monthly)

Five Myths About Welfare
1. It is easy to get on welfare
2. Life on welfare is easy
3. People on welfare don’t want to work
4. Lots of people are defrauding the system
5. It costs too much to fix poverty

October 27, 2006
Time to raise welfare rates
SFU economist Jon Kesselman makes the links between rising homelessness and BC’s abysmal welfare rates in this commentary from the Vancouver Sun:
"A whole $6! Every day! Imagine that you wake up each morning with six dollars burning a hole in your pocket. Let’s see: How might you spend your money? Maybe contemplate breakfast, a midday meal and supper at nightfall? (...) Welfare benefits for employable single persons in B.C. are $185 per month (the daily $6) plus a $325 monthly housing allowance, for a grand total of $510. These figures have been unchanged since 1994 despite a rise in living costs of nearly 30 per cent; the benefits are just one-third of what Statistics Canada computes as the low-income cutoff. So should we be surprised to find B.C.’s city streets and lanes looking increasingly like scenes from a Dickens novel? (...) A campaign endorsed by many community groups, called “Raise the Rates” (, may help to heighten public awareness."
Posted October 27 by:
Marc Lee
Relentlessly Progressive Economics
"Commentary on Canadian economics and public policy"

Raise the Rates
Raise the Rates is a coalition of community groups and organisations concerned with the level of poverty and homelessness in British Columbia.
MLA Welfare Challenge was a project of Raise the Rates. is a project of the Resist! Collective
"The Resist! Collective is a group of Vancouver-based activists working to provide communications and technical services, information and education to the greater activist community. The Resist! Collective (Resist!) and project grew out of the old Vancouver TAO collective.

Save Low Income Housing Coalition - Vancouver
The Save Low Income Coalition is working to preserve and increase low-income housing units in the Greater Vancouver Area and to raise the rates of shelter allowance for income assistance recipients.
Active coalition members include non-profit, staffed as well as volunteer-based community groups. Many of us are advocates and some of us are residents localized in the Downtown Eastside area.

Self Advocate Net
Sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resources, this great site from Abbotsford in BC's Fraser Valley is an excellent example of how well partnerships between government, the private sector and the NGO sector can nurture and support communities that might otherwise be marginalized.
" is a strong voice for people with intellectual disabilities during the good times and the difficult times. We like to let people know what is possible if they speak up and stand up for their rights. We want to share the positive experiences through other peoples' stories and learn from their situations. But we also want to let people know about the important issues that are coming up that we need to face so that we will be safe in our communities and treated with respect."
- incl. links to About Us - FAQ - Music - Movies - Health and Wellness - Dear Jill - Photos - Our Stories- Groups - News - Links - Guestbook - Maps - Useful Tools - Barb's Tidbits - James' Ideas - Site map

Social Housing Coalition
The Social Housing Coalition is a non-partisan, volunteer coalition spanning Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, and reaching out to the rest of British Columbia. We are a grassroots coalition comprised of those impacted by the current housing crisis, and we are determined to make social housing a major issue in the upcoming provincial election and beyond.
You can participate in this popular movement for social housing in a number of ways.

Stand up to fight for social Housing and Rent Control in the 2013 BC election (PDF - 2.1MB, 2 pages)

Social Planning and Research Council (SPARC) of British Columbia
The Social Planning and Research Council of BC is a non-partisan, charitable organization operating in BC since 1966. We work together with communities on Accessibility, Community Development Education, Income Security, and Community Social Planning.

SPARC Resources & Publications

Sample SPARC reports:

Precarious & Vulnerable: Lone Mothers on Income Assistance (PDF - 235K, 31 pages)
December 9, 2008
By Penny Gurstein and Michael Goldberg
The British Columbia government introduced sweeping changes to its income assistance program in 2002. Although the changes made life more difficult for everyone on income assistance, lone mothers and their children were particularly hard hit. This report explores the impact that these changes have had on lone mothers with young children.

The Social Planning and Research Council (SPARC) of BC is a non-partisan, charitable organization operating in BC since 1966. We work together with communities on Accessibility, Community Development Education, Income Security, and Community Social Planning.

Municipality Votes Papers 2008 (PDF - 234K, 11 pages)
October 14, 2008
This publication is intended to help you engage with local candidates in the municipal election on November 15, 2008. It’s all about social issues that impact your community; questions that matter to you; and the role that the municipal governments can choose to take in addressing them.
- covers the following topics:
Local Democracy * Affordable Housing * Inclusion & Accessibility * Diversity in Civic Engagement * Transportation * Municipal Governments & Community Social Planning

Still Left behind : A Comparison of
Living Costs and Income Assistance in British Columbia
(PDF file - 676K, 63 pages)
By Jill Atkey and Rebecca Siggner
February 2008
A comparison of Living Costs and Employment Assistance Rates in British Columbia. Report findings indicate that families and individuals receiving income assistance from the province of B.C. are not able to meet their minimal monthly living costs.


Left Behind: A Comparison of Living Costs and Employment and Assistance Rates in BC (PDF file - 593K, 36 pages)
December 2005
By Michael Goldberg and Kari Wolanski
"The primary finding of this report is that it is harder for income assistance recipients to make ends meet in 2005 than it was three years ago following cuts to welfare benefit rates in 2002. Few material changes have been made to welfare policy since the last edition of this report in 2002, in which we described the significant reforms to welfare in BC made that year. However, in the intervening years, inflation has continued to erode the meagre incomes available to people receiving social assistance in BC. The already inadequate benefit levels have remained static in spite of increasing costs, particularly for shelter, heating, and transportation."
This is the personal website of David Schreck - political pundit, former MLA and former Special Advisor to the (NDP) Premier, among other accomplishments.

Links - collection of ~100 links to (mostly BC) online resources covering a wide range of topics, with a special focus on health economics, health unions, politics and advocacy.

Some samples of David Schreck's articles:

November 26, 2010
Vulnerable BC Workers

On November 1st, 2001,BC's minimum wage was set at $8.00 an hour. It is now the lowest minimum wage in Canada. Labour Minister Iain Black announced that he has asked senior ministry staff to meet with key business and labour stakeholders to discuss employment standards, including minimum wage. (...) A myth advanced by critics of a higher minimum wage is that it kills entry level jobs for young people...

Related link:

Labour Ministry to Gather Input on Employment Standards
November 25, 2010
VICTORIA — Labour Minister Iain Black today announced that he has asked senior ministry staff to meet with key business and labour stakeholders to discuss employment standards, including minimum wage. (...) Black said staff will have focused discussions with organizations that represent the interests of employees and employers, as well as independent experts, over the next two to three months.
Ministry of Labour


Related links from the
Progressive Economics Forum Blog:

The Economics of the Minimum Wage
By Andrew Jackson
January 27, 2007

Revisiting the minimum wage disemployment effects
By Iglika Ivanova
August 6, 2008


March 2, 2010
Budget 2010
Premier Campbell and his government took a major dive in public opinion polls when British Columbians learned in July about the HST, not mentioned during the election, and about the true size of the deficit, misrepresented during the election. Is there any reason to think the Campbell government is more credible now than it was during last year's election? Evidence from the March 2nd budget suggests they've learned nothing.
Strategic Thoughts - website of David Schreck
[ more budget 2010 information and analysis] - a separate page of this website ]

February 2, 2010
Income Assistance Caseloads Up - Yet Again
The latest welfare statistics are more bad news for the Campbell government, and for those who hope for mercy in the March 3rd budget. Relative to December 2008, the caseload in December 2009 increased by 45.4% for those categorized as "expected to work", and by 15.6% for all recipients of assistance. That's not the half of it since relative to December 2006 the "expected to work" caseload was was up 118%, and the total caseload was up 27%. This is bad news for the 130,341 income assistance "cases" and bad news for the provincial budget. (...) In his story in The Tyee about cutbacks to the income assistance appeal process [see the link below], Andrew MacLeod may have hit on why the government feels confident that disability caseloads won't takeoff. MacLeod noted that while the annual report on the appeal process was released in December, it escaped notice in the media. Income assistance caseload statistics are reported monthly, but unlike monthly estimates of employment and unemployment from Statistics Canada, these reliable administrative data are usually ignored by the media.

The latest BC welfare statistics
- December 2009 data, posted January 29, 2010

Related link:

Complaints of Unfairness Shoot up from Welfare, Disability Recipients
Independent government tribunal had budget cut as appeals rose 46 per cent
By Andrew MacLeod
February 1, 2010
The Employment and Assistance Appeals Tribunal is an independent government body that listens and rules when people feel they've been treated unfairly by the ministries that administer disability assistance, welfare and childcare subsidies. Last year the number of appeals to the tribunal jumped by 46 per cent. At the same time the office dealt with a 17 per cent budget cut by shrinking the size of panels that hear appeals and by using a computer program to train new tribunal members. The details are included in the tribunal's 2008-2009 annual report (PDF file - 1.9MB, 32 pages)
"...your independent alternative daily
newspaper reaching every corner of B.C. and beyond"

Lies, damn lies and government websites:
David Schreck is an independent watchdog of the British Columbia government.
In the article below, he "reviews" the new BC Government Home Page by systematically debunking several of the self-congratulatory factoids (found in the section entitled For the Record: Facts on Current B.C. Issues) from the govt. site.

BC Government's Revised Website - A Commentary by David Schreck
December 15, 2009
"(...) British Columbians have learned the hard way after the last election that the B.C. Liberals suffer an enormous credibility gap. Whether it is their claims about the HST, promises about the deficit, commitments to protect health and education or simply statistical facts about child poverty and employment, you have to check the facts for yourself because you can't believe what the government tells you, updated website or not."
- includes half a dozen links to authoritative sources of data that contradict or correct statements found in the For the Record page, notably with respect to the government's claims about poverty reduction and job creation.

Related link:

Government of British Columbia Home Page

September 1, 2009
Budget Deficit and Deceit
The Campbell government plans to balance its budget by 2013-2014. That plan calls for tabling a budget in February 2013, holding an election in May 2013 and having a new replacement budget in September 2013. It looks like the B.C. Liberals think voters will fall for the 2009 trick again and again. Between now and the next election, all of the budgets that will be tested by audited financial statements, Public Accounts, will show deficits, beginning with a deficit of $2.8 billion this year. You won't find it in the government's budget highlights, but Finance Minister Colin Hansen's September budget update announced an 18% increase in MSP premiums. BC has set several Canadian records: the highest child poverty, the lowest minimum wage and the only province to use regressive premiums to fund health care.
NOTE: for links to the September 2009 BC Budget Update and analysis of those measures,
go to the 2009 Canadian Government Budgets Links page:

More bad news for welfare
May 30, 2009
BC's latest welfare "statistics" were released mid-afternoon on Friday, May 29th [see the link below]. The "temporary assistance - expected to work" caseload increased 52.9% between April 2008 and April 2009. The total caseload increased by 14.4%, year over year. "Expected to work - two parent families" increased by 77.1%. Not only is the welfare caseload increasing, but the rate of increase is increasing! When the August 2008 data were released on the eve of the Vancouver by-elections, five months before the latest budget, the data showed an increase in "temporary assistance - expected to work" of "only" 20.2% and in the total welfare caseload of "only" 5.5%
[ incl. links to three related resources ]

Related links:

New BC welfare numbers show continued climb
By Andrew MacLeod
May 29, 2009
VICTORIA – The British Columbia welfare caseload continued to rise in April, according to government figures released today. The total number of cases grew by 0.7 percent since March. The number in the expected to work category receiving temporary assistance was 54 percent higher in April than it was in June 2008. The total number of clients, including those on disability assistance, was 161,780 in April. That's still significantly lower than the 244,821 in 2001 when the then new B.C. Liberal Party took office and tightened eligibility requirements. In 1995 there were 367,387 clients on the welfare caseload.
[ incl. links to three related resources ]
The Tyee


Welfare in BC Up 49.8% - Revealed Post Election
May 15, 2009
The first crumb of what will likely be a lot more previously hidden bad news came out three days after the election when the Ministry of Housing and Social Services released welfare statistics (see "Related links" below) that should have been released by the end of April. The statistics for March 2009 show that for the category of "temporary assistance expected to work" the caseload increased by 49.8% between March 2008 and March 2009. The total welfare caseload is up 13.6% relative to a year earlier, and stands at the highest level since 2002. The welfare caseload has not only been increasing, but the increase has been accelerating. That was taking place in 2008 when Premier Campbell was still claiming that BC would duck the worst of the recession. It was worst yet during the election campaign when Premier Campbell was saying "Keep BC Strong". Thousands of British Columbians aren't looking at "keeping" BC strong, they just desperately want to regain their own strength.

Related link:

BC Employment and Assistance Cases by Program - March 2009 (PDF - 80K, 6 pages)
Ministry of Housing and Social Services


BC in Recession?
January 10, 2009
Governments frequently release bad news around quitting time on Friday afternoons. The Campbell government did that trick one better when it released welfare statistics late on the afternoon of New Year's Eve. Those statistics showed the number of cases classified as "temporary assistance expected to work" up 24.3% in November 2008 relative to November 2007. The increase was startling but only the latest jump in a trend that started in July when the "expected to work" caseload increased by 16.3% relative to July 2007. The total welfare (BC Employment and Assistance) caseload, including disabled, increased by 7.2% between November 2007 and November 2008. Welfare statistics aren't the only indicator of an economic downturn in British Columbia. Statistics Canada reported that the number of British Columbians receiving regular employment insurance benefits in October 2008 (the latest data) increased by 18.2% relative to October 2007. That increase was only exceeded in Ontario where the increase was 18.4%. Alberta was third amongst the provinces with an 8.2% increase, far behind Ontario and BC. [ more... ]

Stagnant Wages
February 23, 2008
The February 2008 edition of Statistics Canada's Perspectives on Labour and Income contains an article titled "Earnings in the last decade". It analyses average hourly earnings between 1997 and 2007. The results are not what the Campbell government usually spins. The Statistics Canada study found that in constant 2002 dollars the national increase in real wages was 6% over the decade, but it was only 3% in BC. What is more shocking is the study's finding that the average real wage of managers in BC increased by 15% over the decade while the real wages of other workers showed virtually no change.

Jan/Feb '08 articles from - PLUS a link to earlier articles at the bottom of the page

BC Welfare Caseload Up
February 5, 2008
The Campbell government continues to suffer from the excesses of its first term. Time will tell whether the bungled sale of BC Rail, details of which are unfolding in the courts, will inflict damage before the May 2009 election. It still has not escaped the consequences of cutting the Ministry of Children and Family Development as if it were any other government department, and this week it is being reminded of its 2001 decision to cut the Mental Health Advocate. For a surprise on the list of memories, who would have thought that under the hard-hearted Campbell government the welfare caseload would increase?

Related links from the BC Ministry of Employment and Assistance:

Latest Employment and Assistance statistics- December 2007
Updated January 29, 2008
- incl. * Number of Cases by Program and Family Type * Number of Clients by Program and Family Type * Number of Cases by Region

BC Employment and Assistance Statistics
- links to earlier statistics

A Lot for Those over $100,000 Income, Little for Welfare
February 23
"The 2007 Budget did not increase the support portion of the income assistance rates for most clients. Based on the Ministry's caseload statistics for December 2006, over 55,000 cases classified as disabled will receive no increase in their support allowance; they are part of the 62,638 cases who will receive no increase in support payments. The Campbell government deserves a little credit for increasing the support allowance for single employable clients, and for adjusting rates for children, but no one should think that all clients are receiving an increase - 40% receive no increase in shelter allowances and 64% receive no increase in support allowances."

Welfare Rates Paid with Caseload Cuts
February 22

Welfare Rate Increase
February 20

Budget 2007-08: Those that Got Get!
February 20, 2007
"BC Budget 2007 flaunts the statutory requirement for reporting major capital costs, and it repeats the pattern of the Campbell government for looking after those who least need it."

NOTE: for more BC Budget 2007 info, go to the British Columbia Government Links page of this site.

A Lot for Those over $100,000 Income, Little for Welfare
February 23, 2007
"The 2007 Budget did not increase the support portion of the income assistance rates for most clients. Based on the Ministry's caseload statistics for December 2006, over 55,000 cases classified as disabled will receive no increase in their support allowance; they are part of the 62,638 cases who will receive no increase in support payments. The Campbell government deserves a little credit for increasing the support allowance for single employable clients, and for adjusting rates for children, but no one should think that all clients are receiving an increase - 40% receive no increase in shelter allowances and 64% receive no increase in support allowances."

Welfare Rates Paid with Caseload Cuts
February 22, 2007

Welfare Rate Increase
February 20, 2007

Budget 2007-08: Those that Got Get!
February 20, 2007
"BC Budget 2007 flaunts the statutory requirement for reporting major capital costs, and it repeats the pattern of the Campbell government for looking after those who least need it."

October 28, 2006
Four Month or More Delay in Welfare Shelter
- includes a link to the Speech by Premier Campbell to the Union of B.C. Municipalities (October 27) where he vowed that he would increase the welfare shelter allowance; also includes links to other related resources, i.e., info about the new Rental Assistance Program for low-income families (excluding families receiving welfare) plus links to the current welfare shelter allowance levels and caseload statistics.

Lower Health Costs by Helping the Hungry
October 12, 2006
According to the Dietitians of Canada, about 10% of Canadians "lack the funds to purchase sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active healthy life." BC's Provincial Health Officer elaborated on hungry British Columbians in his latest annual report. In the highlights of his report, he stressed that: "Factors affecting the ability to afford nutritious food in BC include higher costs of a basic "market basket" of items, higher housing costs, inadequate social assistance rates, increased levels of homelessness, and a minimum wage level that can result in even full-time workers in some BC communities falling below the federal low-income cut-off." By raising both income assistance rates and the minimum wage, the Campbell government might lower health care costs and stimulate the economy.

Related Link:

Food, Health and Well-Being in British Columbia:
Provincial Health Officer's Annual Report for 2005
: (PDF file - 4.6MB, 166 pages)
October 2006
British Columbia Office of the Provincial Health Officer
[Related News Release - October 4]

Campbell's New Era Fails Women
March 1, 2004
"Gordon Campbell seems to have a major disconnect with women; perhaps that is why a pamphlet has appeared on the government caucus website under the heading "A New Era for Women". It misrepresents what government has done in terms of communities, health services, child care and self-sufficiency (code language for kicking people off welfare). The word "equality" does not appear in the pamphlet."

NOTE: All 37 Women's Centres across the province of British Columbia saw their provincial funding cut by 100% on March 31, 2004.

Related Links:

Campbell's New Era Fails Women
March 1, 2004


Arrogant Response to the Auditor General's Disability Report
February 25, 2004
"In a report released February 24th, the Auditor General criticized the disability review conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources, but the Ministry's response denied important conclusions of the Auditor's report."

NOTE: for more links to info about the Auditor General's report, see to the Canadian Social Research Links BC Government Links page

2004 Budget Highlights
"Endlessly repeating that the budget is balanced won't make it so"
February 17, 2004
"The government published its version of budget highlights but it overlooked many important facts. In an attempt to correct those deficiencies, here is a citizen's version of highlights from the 2004-05 budget."
* Provincial debt is $39.452 billion, $5.617 billion (16.6%) higher than it was when the BC Liberals took office.
* Revenue from income tax is projected to be $5.005 billion, $971 million lower than before the tax cuts.
* Revenue from corporate taxes is $506 million lower than before the tax cuts.
* The budget for the Ministry of Children and Family Development is $1.382 billion, $171 million lower than 2000-01 and a cut of $70 million from last year.
* The budget for Human Resources is $1.301 billion, a further cut of $117 million from last year.
* 14 Ministries are slated for budget cuts totaling $803 million.
* The forecast allowance, set at $750 million when the Liberals presented their first budget, was reduced to just $100 million - not much room for error, but errors won't be revealed until after the next election.
* $124 million was added to the bottom line by changing the method of accounting (fully including schools, universities, colleges and health authorities).
* Despite claims about more money for education, that money doesn't appear until 2006.
* People with valuable homes get a break with an increase in the threshold for clawing back the homeowner grant from $525,000 to $585,000.
* All of the income tax cuts for most middle and low income taxpayers have been clawed back with increases in regressive taxes and fees.

More Cuts to Welfare
February 18, 2004
"Just days after the government appeared to back down on its plan to kick thousands off welfare by being the first province in Canada to impose arbitrary time limits; it looks like balancing the budget will be at the cost of the poor."

CCPA helps Campbell with Unrealistic Proposals
February 12, 2004
"On Thursday, during the last question period for the first week of the new legislative sitting, Speaker Claude Richmond once again encouraged disrespect for BC's legislature by allowing government backbenchers to run out the clock asking questions about a paper published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). When Opposition House Leader Joy MacPhail was finally recognized, Richmond announced that the time for question period had expired. The CCPA did not help the New Democrats with its paper titled "BC Solutions Budget 2004: Getting Ready for 2010". The 29 page document is as valid as any other external comment on the upcoming BC budget, but it contains unrealistic and politically unacceptable taxation proposals."

Government Backs Down over Heartless Policy but won't release numbers
February 6, 2004
"(...) What they don't say is that at the last minute government added a new 25th reason for exempting people from the arbitrary time limit. The new exemption is "People who have an employment plan, are complying with their plan, are actively looking for work, but have not been successful in finding employment." Everyone on assistance has completed an employment plan because it is a requirement in the initial application. It has always been a requirement that employable people look for work. In other words, rule 25 exempts everyone and the two year rule was a cruel exercise that caused needless anxiety for people who are already down on their luck."
Related Links - see the Canadian Social Research Links BC Welfare Time Limits page

Trouble for Campbell with 40 Unhappy MLAs
January 27, 2004
"A cabinet shuffle in an atmosphere of crisis, two weeks prior to the legislature opening with the Speech from the Throne, is bad news for Premier Campbell."

2003 in Review
December 15, 2003
"In December it is the custom to look back and review the year. 2003 was a bizarre year in BC politics. It had bookends of Premier Campbell's mug shot being displayed for all to see following his night in a US jail at one end, and at the other end chaos in BC Ferries..."

Making the Disabled Beg
April 25, 2003
"Why is the Campbell government turning to charities to assist people with disabilities overcome barriers to employment? Human Resources Minister Murry Coell used the April staged cabinet meeting to announce a $20 million endowment to the Vancouver Foundation, the income from which will fund annual grants. (...) Coell's approach may have more to do with political networking than it does with helping people with disabilities."

After Welfare - Contrasting Studies
(British Columbia)
March 27, 2003
"Statistics Canada has released a study on people who leave welfare that contrasts with the story spun by BC's Minister of Human Resources, Murray Coell. "Life After Welfare: The Economic Well Being of Welfare Leavers in Canada during the 1990s" by Marc Frenette and Garnett Picot provides some fascinating contrasts with Coell's characterization of the 90s and with what are passing as welfare exit surveys in his ministry."

Related Link:

Life after welfare : 1994 to 1999 (dead link)
March 26, 2003
"Family incomes rose for the majority of people who stopped receiving welfare benefits during the 1990s. However, for about one out of every three individuals, family income declined significantly, according to a first-ever national study of the economic outcome for people who left welfare rolls."
The link above takes you to a summary of the report.
Complete report:
Life After Welfare: The Economic Well Being of Welfare Leavers in Canada during the 1990s (PDF file - 332K, 32 pages)
Source : The Daily [Statistics Canada]

Exit Surveys of "Welfare Leavers"

January 6, 2003

Related Link:

Leaving Welfare for Work Triples Income (dead link)
Feb. 26, 2003
"British Columbians leaving income assistance for work are almost tripling their income, according to the Ministry of Human Resources’ third exit survey of 1,512 former clients who have been off assistance for six months. “This survey continues the trend that sees the majority of clients moving into sustainable jobs, earning solid wages and becoming self-reliant,” said Human Resources Minister Murray Coell. “This is precisely the goal of B.C. Employment and Assistance: to assist people to move away from dependence and take control of their lives.”
Source : Ministry of Children and Family Development

Closure Ends Year One - Expect a Terrible Year Two
May 15, 2002
"One year is down and three are yet to go before the May 17, 2005, election. In his first year, Premier Gordon Campbell has demonstrated an outrageous abuse of power. With 77 of 79 seats in the legislature, his House Leader has threatened to use closure to cut off debate and pass some of his most controversial bills by May 30th."

Campbell: A Robin Hood in Reverse
May 14, 2002
"Looking back a year is something usually reserved for the week before New Years, but this week we have the occasion of the first anniversary of Gordon Campbell's historic election sweep. Who would have thought that the mild mannered politician who promised to do a better job with social programs while slashing taxes would make Ontario's Mike Harris look like a leftie?"

Gag Warning Accompanies Welfare Legislation
April 15, 2002
"Two weeks of relative inactivity for the Campbell government came to an end Monday with the introduction of five new bills to the Legislature. (...) Two of the bills introduced on April 15th dealt with changes to BC's welfare system. Those changes are so extreme that four hours before the legislation was introduced the Ministry of Human Resources took the unusual step of sending an email to all staff warning them about their duties as public employees."


The Toronto Star

Kudos to the Toronto-Dominion Bank and other Canadian financial
institutions that are offering a range of financial services to low-income Canadians!
BOO to Moneymart-style predatory lending practices!

TD takes poor into account : Direct Deposit Initiative
keeps social assistance cheques out of hands of pricey payday lenders
By Rita Trichur
January 5, 2010
Toronto-Dominion Bank is using an innovative pilot program that specifically targets low-income earners as new clients – a financial intervention of sorts to prevent those folks from cashing their social assistance cheques at costly payday lenders. Canada's second-largest bank has set up kiosks in some government offices in British Columbia to reach out to these vulnerable consumers and snag them as customers just as they receive their welfare cheques. In some cases, civil servants are now simply referring clients to the closest TD branch.
Toronto Star
"...your independent alternative daily newspaper reaching every corner of B.C. and beyond"

Selected recent content from The Tyee:

Jean Swanson receives the People's Order of British Columbia
September 2013
COMMENT (by Gilles):
As a rule, I don't tend to highlight awards and distinctions bestowed upon individuals or groups for their work in advancing progressive social policy. However, when I stumbled across the article below in The Tyee [ ], I just had to share it because of the respect and admiration that I have for Jean Swanson, one of the winners of this year's People's Order of BC from The Tyee. Read this thoughtful piece by Ben Christopher and learn why Jean Swanson is a most deserving recipient of this recognition.
Kudos, Jean!

Jean Swanson's Advocacy for Vancouver's Impoverished
Decades of activism in the Downtown Eastside earned her the People's Order of BC from Tyee readers.
By Ben Christopher
September 10, 2012
Jean Swanson is an anti-poverty activist who lives and works in Vancouver. Coordinator of the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) and founder of the Group End Legislated Poverty, Swanson's work aims to help end poverty in Canada's poorest postal code, Vancouver Downtown Eastside. (...) Jean Swanson has made a big difference in the lives of many of B.C.'s and Canada's lowest income citizens.

The People's Order of British Columbia (
August 31, 2012
In autumn of 2011, The Tyee invited readers to nominate and vote on their choices for a new award: The People's Order of British Columbia.
The origins of the idea are explained here :
[ ].
The first nominees are listed here :
[ ]
The five first winners are announced here :
[ ]
FYI - the four other winners to date of the People's Order of British Columbia are:
* Dave Barrett
* Alexandra Morton
* May Apsassin
* People of Hartley Bay's


Time for a CBC Right to Food Day
Public broadcaster should launch it instead of pushing the failed food bank charity model.
By Graham Riches
December 28, 2012
Now that this year's CBC's Food Bank Day in B.C. is over surely it's time to rethink this annual event stretching back more than 25 years. In light of persistent and growing hunger in our affluent province, there's a compelling argument to reconsider our national broadcaster's decades long public support for charitable food banks. This year the CBC raised a record setting $567,085 to be distributed to food banks across the province. In appreciation, CBC studios in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Kamloops and Prince George opened their doors to donors, of whom 5,000 in Vancouver met national and local broadcasting personalities, billed as stars, including Peter Mansbridge and George Stroumboloupoulos, the first Canadian Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Program. A fun time to be sure, not bad for the ratings and all for a very good cause. What's not to like?
The problem is that food banks have become the publicly accepted way of meeting this basic human need, with the CBC over the years fostering this widely held perception. How has this come about when food poverty remains deeply entrenched and widening income inequality, grossly inadequate welfare benefits and social program cutbacks highlight the continuing failure of public policy and government accountability for addressing domestic hunger?
If overcoming food poverty is the goal, hungry people require adequate purchasing power to go into a store like anyone else and buy the foods of their choice. Why not income security, a rebuilt social safety net and a Poverty Reduction Plan for B.C as the focus of next year's CBC Right to Food Day?

[ Author Graham Riches is director of the UBC School of Social Work and Family Studies with an interest in food security, welfare policy and human rights. ]


NOTE: This is the eighth of The Tyee's Inspiring Ideas for 2013 series:
[Click the link above to access all of the following ideas.]
Idea #1: 'MOOC': Saviour of Higher Ed?
Idea #2: Turn Complex Problems into Games
Idea #3: Want to Defeat Harper? Force Cooperation
Idea #4: Teach Teachers How to Be Advocates
Idea #5: 'You Are Not a Loan'
Idea #6: Assess the Public Health Impact of New Laws
Idea #7: Make 'Affordable' the New 'Livable'
Idea #8: Time for a CBC Right to Food Day


- Go to the Food Banks and Hunger Links page:


The Problem with Food Banks : Hungry people must be fed.
But critics say framing food as charity takes the root issues off government's plate.
April 25, 2012
By Colleen Kimmett
It's true that Canada signed and ratified the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1967 -- and other international agreements following -- that guarantee the right to food. But it's not entrenched in our constitution, our domestic law. The right to food is particularly problematic in the Canadian context, because social rights, like welfare for example, are provincial responsibilities."It's the old problem of Canadian federalism," says Graham Riches, professor emeritus at UBC's School of Social Work. "It becomes messy in terms of whose government is really responsible for this." Graham was one of the first academics looking at food banks from a social justice perspective. In 1986 he published Food Banks and the Welfare Crisis, linking the proliferation of food banks throughout the 1980s to the recession of that era, followed by the rise of neo-liberalism and the erosion of the social welfare system.


Harper's Plan to Dismantle Canada's Safety Nets
His social engineering aim is to privatize social services and leave the job to charities.
By Murray Dobbin
7 Nov 2011
The Harper government's announcement that it will change the laws regarding capital gains taxes to encourage more charitable giving strikes an ominous note for the country's political culture. Harper is mimicking -- through tax incentives -- the Conservatives in Britain who are trying to pull the same trick with what they call the Big Society initiative: promoting the privatization of social services through increased private giving. Both efforts smack of social engineering from the right. When Harper stated that we would not recognize the country after he was through, this is in part what he was talking about.
The political process of reversing 40 years of nation-building (begun by Brian Mulroney and Paul Martin) consists of two stages.
The crucial second stage, the gradual dismantling of federal government activism, depends on the first: the gutting of federal revenues. Logically, that stage was implemented early on with the huge, five-year, $60 billion tax cut plan implemented by Jim Flaherty in 2007, the year following Harper’s first election victory. That move, and the cut to the GST, created the deficit -- the useful crisis Harper needed.


Harper's Goal: Create a New Irrational Reality
As PM re-engineers Canadian society, he never lets facts get in the way.

By Murray Dobbin
May 23, 2011
In observing Stephen Harper for the past 20 years, I have often been reminded of the line from Shakespeare: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Replace lawyers with scientists, and you capture the role that the irrational plays in the politics of the prime minister.
It shows up everywhere:
* Over a dozen new crime bills and billions on prisons when the science tells him crime is on a steady downward trend.
* A determination to close Insite, Vancouver's safe injection site, despite several studies that show it saves lives and gets people into treatment (and off heroin).
An obsession with ending the long-gun registry, despite its constant use by (and support from) every police force in the country.
Massive cuts to science funding agencies, which promoted scores of critical studies and helped keep Canada in the forefront of several disciplines.
A foreign policy driven not by a rational determination of Canada's interests, but by a kind of visceral and absolute dedication to the interests of another country, Israel.
Determined support for Quebec's asbestos mining, when literally every health agency and every credible study tells him it kills 100,000 people a year.
And the killing off of the long-form census, which every expert on governance said was critical to the delivery of government services.
It may be only a slight exaggeration to suggest that if science supports something, there is a good chance Harper will oppose it.

[ Related link : Murray Dobbin's blog ]


Saviours in the Shadows: Grandparents Raising Kids
In BC alone, 10,000 children live with grandparents, many struggling for support.
A special report.
By Robyn Smith
3 Feb 2011
(...)By 2006, more than 65,000 Canadian grandchildren were living with one or two grandparents [Source: StatCan]. Nearly 10,000 of them live in B.C. It's an arrangement often created by trauma, though every story is different.

Recent related link
from Ontario:

Family support: Help grandma help the kids
January 21, 2011
By Craig Glover
For the second time in less than a year a tribunal has ordered the Ontario provincial government to reinstate a $240 monthly benefit that helps grandparents raise their needy grandchildren.
Toronto Star


What Happened to Welfare Applicants Who Dropped from Radar?
Government failed to track those who stopped applying, then didn't file tax returns.
By Andrew MacLeod
February 3, 2011
Many people who started applying for welfare in British Columbia but didn't finish the application process made more money than they would have had they received assistance, a British Columbia government study said. [See the link to the study below). But the study only included people who filed income tax returns for three years in a row, leading one welfare observer to conclude the government still knows little about how changes to the system in 2002 affected the most vulnerable. At that time the government introduced, among other changes, a three-week delay in the process where applicants were expected to look for work.
In a March 2009, report called "Last Resort," (PDF - 2.2MB, 132 pages), the B.C. Ombudsperson's Office said the ministry had agreed to find out whether people who discontinue their application process move on to employment or educational programs within two months, and to report their findings publicly. While the government's outcomes report obtained by The Tyee confirms many people fail to complete the application process, it adds little to what's known about what happens to those people. "After the [2002] change in the application process, 58 per cent of applicants that were not exempted from the three-week work search requirement did not return for the second stage of the application process," the report said.

The Tyee


The BC Government study:

Outcomes of BC Employment and Assistance (BCEA) Applicants that* do
not Complete the Application Process
(PDF - 516K, 16 pages)
January 2011
The analysis in this report uses tax data in Statistics Canada’s Longitudinal Administrative Databank (LAD) to examine the income of applicants that did not complete the income assistance application process over the period 2000 to 2004.
Specific findings of the report are:
- The median after-tax income of non-returning applicants is higher than what they would have received on full-time, full-year income assistance.
- The median income of non-returning applicants increases over the two-year follow-up period, indicating that they are financially better off in the
years after their uncompleted application for income assistance.
[ BC Ministry of Social Development ]

* Grammar Police Comment:
There appears to be a collective inability in the BC Ministry of Social Development to tell the difference between "that" and "who".
In the title of this study, the fragment "Applicants that do not complete..." should be "Applicants WHO do not complete..."
'Who' refers to people. 'That' and 'which' refer to groups or things.
Source :

Lousy Cases Against 'Overpaid' Welfare Recipients
'Cookie cutter' claims lack facts, invoke obsolete rule, say poverty lawyers.
June 16, 2010
By Andrew MacLeod
Lawyers with the British Columbia Public Interest Advocacy Centre are criticizing the Housing and Social Development Ministry's attempt to take welfare recipients to court to collect money for overpayments and are asking the ministry to give them what they need to help people.

In late May the minister responsible, Rich Coleman, said the ministry had filed 317 cases in small claims court seeking repayments. Some of the cases involved fraud, while others may have filed incorrect information that resulted in overpayments, he said at the time.

Lawyers working for BCPIAC say the government's overpayment cases often fall apart under legal scrutiny, and yet it insists on attacking people who are little able to defend themselves.
The Tyee

Related articles from The Tyee:

* Complaints of Unfairness Shoot up from Welfare, Disability Recipients
Independent government tribunal had budget cut as appeals rose 46 per cent.

* BC's Badly Broken Welfare System
BC Libs created 'overly complex' maze that kept needy off rolls: ombudsman

* Welfare's New Era in BC
The provincial government's tough rules have spawned fear, pain, a little black comedy, and very real tragedy. A Tyee Special Report by Andrew MacLeod.


Green Homes, Out of the Box
April 2010
Shipping containers revolutionized the global economy, making trade possible on a scale never before seen. Now, these big steel boxes hold the potential to revolutionize urban living and design. In this series, The Tyee reports on how these containers are being refashioned into affordable, green buildings in Europe and Asia and examines how they could be used to solve North America's housing problems as well.
Three-part series:
[Click the link above toaccess the individual articles.]
* Green and Affordable Homes, Out of the Box - 12 Apr 2010
* Is this Canada's Most Affordable Green Home? - 13 April 2010
* Homeless Housing For Less - 14 April 2010
The Tyee


Downtown Eastside info centre a "whitewash" say residents
By Colleen Kimmett February 1, 2010
(...) Wendy Pederson of the Carnegie Community Action Project called the centre a "whitewash."
"We're offended that BC Housing is trying to manage the messaging of homelessness and poverty and the Downtown Eastside. They say that homelessness is about addiction and mental illness; it's not true," Pederson said. "We have a housing supply problem. We don't have low-income housing in this city. We have an income problem. We need to raise welfare."
The Tyee

Related links:

‘Downtown Eastside Connect’ Opens at Woodward's
February 1st, 2010
VANCOUVER – British Columbians, media and visitors to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games can learn about the partnerships and investments improving the quality of life for people in the Downtown Eastside at an information centre opened today by Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The Province subsidizes over 7,000 social and supportive housing units annually and is protecting another 1,280 affordable apartments in this Vancouver neighbourhood,” said Coleman. “The Connect centre shows how these investments have made a positive difference both socially and economically for Downtown Eastside residents because of the strong partnerships between the Province, City of Vancouver, non-profit groups and the private sector.” The centre, Downtown Eastside Connect at Woodward’s, features a wide range of information available in a variety of formats, showcasing innovative housing, social and economic development programs. The centre will assist international media to produce stories about the neighbourhood by connecting them with non-profit organizations that create positive changes in the community.
BC Housing

The Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) is a project of the board of the Carnegie Community Centre Association. CCAP works mostly on housing, income, and land use issues in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver so the DTES can remain a low income friendly community.

Also from The Tyee:

Sun, Province to Promote Governments' Homeless Message
CanWest newspapers co-sponsor government-run
public relations centre in Downtown Eastside during Olympics
By Sean Holman, 27 Jan 2010
Vancouver's two major newspapers are sponsoring a government-run centre that will tell international media covering the 2010 Winter Olympics about how the province is dealing with homelessness issues in the city's troubled Downtown Eastside. Media observers say The Vancouver Sun and The Province should investigate the veracity of the information that will be presented by the centre, not sponsor it. But The Province's editor-in-chief has said that sponsorship deal would only create a conflict of interest if it had been arranged by the paper's newsroom -- which it wasn't.


BC law to deny welfare to some; wording too loose says NDP
By Andrew MacLeod
October 19, 2009
British Columbia housing and social development minister Rich Coleman today introduced legislation that he says will prevent people with outstanding warrants for serious crimes from receiving welfare. But New Democratic Party critic Shane Simpson says the legislation will also affect people who have committed only minor crimes. “The minister has issued a press release that says one thing and a piece of legislation that says something very different,” said Simpson. “They have a blank cheque on who they can capture with this and that's inappropriate.”
The Tyee

The proposed legislation:

Bill 14 — 2009
Housing and Social Development
Statutes Amendment Act, 2009

First Reading copy
October 19, 2009

The news release from the
Ministry responsible for welfare:

Outstanding warrants to be ineligible for social assistance
News Release
October 19, 2009
VICTORIA – The provincial government will restrict access to income assistance and disability assistance for people with outstanding indictable arrest warrants in B.C. and other provinces, as well as arrest warrants under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada). Indictable offences are the most serious types of offences and include a wide range of crimes such as assault, breaking and entering, drug trafficking, murder, assault with a weapon, and assault causing bodily harm.
Ministry of Housing and Social Development

Related links:

B.C. to deny welfare to alleged criminals (dead link)
October 19, 2009
.B.C. Social Development Minister Rich Coleman plans to cut off welfare and disability payments to people with outstanding arrest warrants.
Critics are raising concerns about a new bill introduced by the B.C. government that would deny social assistance or disability benefits to anyone with an outstanding arrest warrant. The provincial minister for housing and social development, Rich Coleman, said the bill is aimed mainly at people from other provinces who move to B.C., although it applies to anyone with an outstanding warrant for an indictable offence anywhere in the country.


Welfare rules won't apply to other benefits;
People who get low-income tax credits will not have to submit to criminal record check
By Justine Hunter
October 20, 2009
While British Columbia seeks to deny welfare benefits to people who are wanted by police, it does not apply the same standards to people collecting provincial tax credits. The province does, however, deny inmates of federal prisons from receiving low-income tax credits, and is currently seeking to expand that exclusion to include prisoners in provincial jails. The province offers numerous tax credits to low-income earners, including sales tax and climate-action rebates. A government official said yesterday there are no plans to require a criminal background check to screen for outstanding warrants in those cases.
Globe and Mail


Bill urges criminal checks for welfare seekers
First-of-its-kind law to weed out those with warrants
for serious crimes based on a principle of ‘punishment,' civil liberties group says
By Justine Hunter
October 19, 2009
British Columbians seeking welfare and disability benefits will be denied assistance unless they agree to a criminal background check, under proposed new legislation tabled yesterday. Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman told reporters that the law, expected to be in effect early in 2010, is meant to ensure the province is not paying benefits to people who are wanted by police in other jurisdictions for serious crimes.

Globe and Mail


Record Deficit a Big Surprise, Say BC Liberals
During May's election Hansen glimpsed red ink, but lacked a 'crystal ball'.
By Andrew MacLeod
British Columbia Finance Minister Colin Hansen is projecting a record deficit of $2.8 billion, according to a budget update he presented today. It's a figure five times larger than the $495 million projected in February and insisted upon by Premier Gordon Campbell during the election campaign.


BC's Bizarre Fiscal Plan
The government seems to be jamming its feet on both the brake pedal and accelerator.
September 1, 2009
By Will McMartin
"(...)The Campbell government clearly understands that fiscal and economic stimulus is a good and necessary thing during the current economic downturn. And, yet, the BC Liberals also appear to have a perverse obsession about cutting government spending — no matter the cost to British Columbia's 'general interest'."

NOTE: for links to the September 2009 BC Budget Update and analysis of those measures,
go to the 2009 Canadian Government Budgets Links page:


June 19, 2009
Death Lurks in an Empty Cupboard
In Canada's poorest neighbourhood, bad diets hasten illness and death.
By Amy Juschka
June 19, 2009
[Editor's note: This is the second of two features on food security in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Yesterday we visited the nutrition-conscious chef of the Carnegie Kitchen.]

Why, in a country as wealthy as Canada, are people going hungry? When Dr. Graham Riches first looked into the issue of "food insecurity" in the early 1980s, he was interested in that question. Nearly three decades later, Riches, emeritus professor of social work at the University of British Columbia, is still trying to find the answer. This much hasn't changed: For millions of low-income Canadians, finding -- and affording -- nutritious food is a daily battle. And more and more, charities are expected to meet the need.

Campbell's Claim that Jobs Lifted Many out of Poverty Proves a Myth
Delayed government report shows no real gains

By Andrew MacLeod
April 27, 2009
Jobs are Premier Gordon Campbell's answer to poverty. That position was repeated during the April 23 leaders' debate on CKNW radio when he responded to a caller's question about mandating poverty reduction targets by saying, "A job is, by far, the best social program you can have." Since taking office in 2001, B.C. Liberals have insisted they were creating jobs and people are better off. They pointed to a rapidly declining welfare caseload as an example of that success. And yet, the NDP and others point out even when B.C.'s economy was strong, the provincial poverty rate stayed high and the child poverty rate, at 21.9 per cent according to the most recent report, led the country for five years. Now a new report posted to the Housing and Social Development Ministry's website following pressure from The Tyee shows Campbell and his welfare ministers have been wrong on why the welfare caseload was shrinking and that major changes the Liberals made to the system did nothing to improve people's incomes.

"...your independent alternative daily newspaper reaching every corner of B.C. and beyond"


Province refused to release report on welfare leavers
By Andrew MacLeod
April 24, 2009 (09:30 am)
The British Columbia government has suppressed a report on what happens to people who leave the province's welfare system, but now is promising to release it today.
(...) The province has insisted that the rapidly declining welfare caseload has been the result of more people finding employment. Other research, including a landmark study by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives researchers, and past Tyee coverage, suggests tightening eligibility rules in 2002 played a large role in the decline. A recent report by provincial Ombudsman Kim Carter, Last Resort (PDF - 2.2MB, 132 pages) , noted, “The ministry lacks evidence to support its conclusion that the reduction in the income assistance caseload is a result of people leaving assistance for employment.”
NOTE: The above article was posted in the morning on April 24 and the Ministry posted its report (below) at 2pm (the timestamp on the PDF file).
The Tyee will quite likely have a followup article early in the coming week; check the Tyee home page for updates.
The Tyee

Related link from the
Ministry of Housing and Social Development

Income Levels of BC Employment and Assistance (BCEA) Clients after They Leave Income Assistance (PDF - 279K, 16 pages)
2009 (PDF file dated April 24/09, 2pm)
The analysis in this report uses tax data from Statistics Canada to examine the income of clients that left assistance and never returned. It is a followup to a previous report, Outcome of those Leaving Assistance, which found that over 80 percent of employable clients who left assistance had employment income.
Specific findings of the report:
· Median total family income of clients, defined as aftertax aftertransfer income including employment income, is higher after clients leave income assistance and increases over time.
· Clients who left income assistance have income significantly higher, in some cases two to three times higher, than they would have receiving income assistance for the entire year.
· Most of the increase is attributable to increases in employment income.
· More...
Ministry of Housing and Social Development (HSD)

Related link from HSD:

Outcomes of Those Leaving Assistance (PDF - 61K, 6 pages)
February 2007
"(...) Since 2002, 88.2% of Expected to Work (ETW) clients who have left assistance and have not returned as of 2005 have employment income, are attending education or have other income in the year following their exit from IA."

BC Deficit Budget Cuts Spending, Offers Little Stimulus
Health and education safe but other ministries trimmed, including environment, housing, aboriginal affairs.
By Andrew MacLeod
Published: February 18, 2009

This Budget Is Toxic Fudge:
BC's government is in denial about the economic realities we face.
By Will McMartin
February 18, 2009
In a province where phoney-baloney budgets and fiscal manipulation are as common as rain, BC Liberal Finance Minister Colin Hansen's 2009/10 plan is as misleading and deceptive as any we've ever seen. The global economy, as every British Columbian over the age of three knows by now, has collapsed. Job losses are rising at an ever-increasing rate; retail sales and housing starts have plunged and commodity prices tanked; and many of the world's largest financial institutions have imploded. Federal governments of every ideological stripe, as well as U.S. states and Canadian provinces, have or are wracking up gigantic fiscal shortfalls.

Balanced Budget Bozos:
BC politicians keep passing, then changing, laws against deficit spending. Are we nuts?
February 4, 2009

More BC Budget 2009 information (budget papers, analysis, etc.):
(from the Canadian Social Research Links Budgets 2009-2010 Links page)


A Home for All
The Tyee's solutions-oriented series on affordable housing for working people.
For too many British Columbians, having a job or even a two-income family is no longer enough to guarantee a basic, comfortable place to live -- in fact, the average Metro Vancouver earner can afford only half a home. In a market that isn't delivering a variety of cost-effective housing, Tyee investigative editor Monte Paulsen reports on how different approaches to finance, government policy and design could whittle the costs down to manageable proportions. And we invite experts to weigh in with their own opinion pieces.The challenge to the ongoing economic and cultural vibrancy of B.C. is critical. The conversation about overcoming that challenge starts here.

In this series:

Fixing the Crazy Cost of Housing
10 Feb 2009
Ordinary people in BC can no longer afford ordinary homes. First in a series searching for solutions.

Affordable Housing: Five Myths
12 Feb 2009
Betting on 'market correction'? Home prices would have to plunge 55 per cent to fit average family income.

Homes that Cost Less than Rental
17 Feb 2009
How a Toronto developer creates 'cost-effective' condos sold to families making as low as $32,000.

No Money Down Mortgages Still a Good Idea? This One Works
24 Feb 2009
Helping renters buy homes, leave social housing, makes space for others.

[ more articles on affordable housing in The Tyee ]

BC Jobs Firm a Bust for Ontario
Private contractor did no better than public effort it replaced

By Andrew MacLeod
October 30, 2008
If British Columbia's government wants to know how well its jobs program is working, new numbers from Ontario might fuel the urge. Ontario's government tried a private job placement service offered by a B.C. company, but an independent review found it worked no better than the ministry's own programs and did not save the government money. The report raises questions about whether the company's programs work any better in B.C. than they do in Ontario, and whether the B.C. government is looking closely enough to know. "There were no incremental reductions in [Income Assistance] that could be attributed to JobsNow," says the report on the Ontario pilot program produced by Ottawa management consulting firm Goss Gilroy Inc. and dated Oct. 10, 2008. "JobsNow was not more effective than regular Ontario Works programming."

Related link:

Evaluation of the JobsNow Pilot:Final Report (PDF - 972K, 38 pages) (dead link)
October 10, 2008
Prepared for:
Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services
Prepared by:
Goss Gilroy Inc. Management Consultants (Ottawa)

Job Training: Taxpayers Taken for $24 Bus Ride
FOIs reveal billing for services not provided.
How private contracts inflated cost of welfare-to-work programs.
By Andrew MacLeod
September 4, 2008
At least one company that helps people on welfare find jobs was billing the government for services it never provided, billed more than once when it did provide services and charged an administration fee of as much as $18 to distribute a $6.40 bus ticket. The details are included in audits of the contractors providing the B.C. Employment Program and were obtained by The Tyee through a freedom of information request. In most cases, the names of the companies and identifying information were removed from the audits prior to their release. The companies delivering the program are WCG International Consultants Ltd., GT Hiring Solutions (2005) Inc. and the B.C. Society of Training for Health and Employment Opportunities. In August the provincial government cancelled an $8 million contract with WCG to provide services in the Interior, and awarded it to GT Hiring.

Liberals to JobWave: You're Fired
$8 million job training contract cancelled; work goes to B.C. competitor.
August 29, 2008
The company that pioneered private job placement services in B.C. for people receiving welfare has lost an $8 million government contract in the province's Interior. A message sent on Aug. 8 by ASPECT-B.C.'s Community Based Trainers to its members working in the sector said the Ministry of Housing and Social Development had cancelled the Interior region contract with WCG International Consultants Ltd., which runs the JobWave program. The company continues to provide B.C. Employment Program services in other regions of the province.
WCG won a contract in 2005 to provide a pilot project, JobsNow, in Ontario. The pilot ended over a year ago and has not been renewed. The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services prepared an evaluation of the project but has not released it. Originally scheduled for a fall 2007 release, the ministry's website now says it will be released in summer 2008.

Welfare Hike Would Make BC 'Magnet' for Poor: Minister
Welfare Minister Claude Richmond rejects call for 50 per cent raise.

By Andrew MacLeod
May 5, 2008
A think tank's proposal to raise welfare rates by 50 per cent is "unreasonable" and would cause British Columbia to become a "welfare magnet" for people from other provinces, says Employment and Income Assistance Minister Claude Richmond.

A Welfare 'Savings' Boomerang - May 1, 2008
Campbell's cuts ended up costing BC taxpayers billions, studies suggest.

Up to 15,500 Homeless: Report
Tally of BC homeless by health profs far higher than housing minister's.
By Andrew MacLeod
January 31, 2008
The number of homeless people in British Columbia may be triple the estimate Housing Minister Rich Coleman provided to The Tyee last week, according to a new report by health professors at UBC, SFU and the University of Calgary. In B.C. there may be as many as 15,500 adults with severe addictions or mental illness who are homeless, says the 149-page report, Housing and Support for Adults with Severe Addictions and/or Mental Illness in British Columbia. The report is dated October, 2007, and was released to The Tyee on Jan. 30, 2008.

Related links:

Housing and Support for Adults with
Severe Addictions and/or Mental Illness in British Columbia
(701K, 149 pages)
October 2007
Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA)
CARMHA is a research centre within the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

Homeless, Housing Stats Disputed
Minister Coleman's figures are 'bogus' says NDP critic.
By Andrew MacLeod
January 24, 2008

Facebook Used by Officials to Spy on Welfare Clients - January 22, 2008
BC officers cruise social sites for fraud evidence.

No New Homes in Premier's Homelessness Plan
Coleman challenges cities to "step up."
By Monte Paulsen
October 12, 2007

'Welfare to Work' Didn't Work
BC Libs sat on own report showing no real gains.

By Bruce Wallace
November 12, 2007
The B.C. government claims to be doing a great job of moving people off welfare into better lives. But its own welfare ministry, the Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance, compiled a report in February 2007, titled Outcomes of Those Leaving Assistance, that summarizes new research contradicting the government's claims of success. And the government waited eight months to release that report, until a reporter surfaced its existence just last month.
[HINT: scroll to the bottom of the article for links to two related articles and a series on welfare, all from 2004 and 2005.]

Related links:

Outcomes of those Leaving Assistance (PDF file - 64K, 6 pages)
February 2007 (posted on the Ministry website October/07)
"Since the introduction of British Columbia Employment and Assistance (BCEA) in April 2002, the employable income assistance (IA) caseload has declined by 53,850 cases or 70 percent. What makes this decline even more significant is that it followed a 47 percent decline in the employable caseload over the preceding six years, following the introduction of BC Benefits in January 1996."
Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance

Wages (BC)
August-October 2007
A laugh–till–you–cry account of one man's remarkable working life or attempt at a lack thereof.
This eccentric, irreverent, and witty chronicle is vintage John Armstrong, excerpted in 14 chapters in The Tyee.

See especially:

Wages: Working Around Welfare (Chapter 5)
September 4, 2007
"(...) Downtown Eastside ... was the low point on the cultural map, and those unfit for hard-working, tax-paying, product-buying society rolled downhill until they got there and then bumped to a halt."

How Big Is Taylor's Heart?
Share that $4.1 billion surplus with poor kids.
By Steve Kerstetter
July 23, 2007
"(...) Taylor and the rest of the BC Liberals have promised a golden future for B.C., a future that will make the province the best place to live in Canada. But that goal will never be reached as long as a significant portion of the population is cut off from the mainstream of community life by virtue of their very low incomes."
TIP: there are links to three related articles at the bottom of the Taylor article.

Steve Kerstetter is a member of the co-ordinating committee of First Call, the BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition.
He is also former Director of the National Council of Welfare.

Related links:

BC Progress Board Releases Discussion Paper on Social Condition
News Release
December 15, 2006
On December 15, 2006, the BC Progress Board released a discussion paper on social condition in British Columbia. The paper, entitled "The Social Condition in British Columbia", examines the causes and costs of low income in British Columbia and provides eight suggestions for provincial and federal government consideration. The report was prepared for the Progress Board by Dr. Keith Banting, C.M., Queen's Research Chair in Public Policy at Queen's University.
"(...) three policy imperatives that flow from federal and provincial income support programs over the past decade:
* Work should pay.
* Educational equality should be a key priority.
* Those who cannot be expected to work should be well supported."

Executive Summary (PDF file - 292K, 3 pages)
Complete report (PDF file - 2.3MB, 54 pages)
December 2006

BC Progress Board
"In July 2001, the Premier formed the BC Progress Board, an independent Panel of eighteen eminent British Columbians from a variety of backgrounds from around the province. The Board is tasked with benchmarking BC over time and relative to other jurisdictions, and with providing strategic advice to the Premier on measures to improve provincial economic performance and the well-being of British Columbians."
[ More about the BC Progress Board ]

Budget 2007: Cracked Foundation?
Critics take crowbars to 'Building a Housing Legacy'
By David Beers
February 21, 2007
In a $3.2 billion surplus year, the Campbell government cut financial assistance to college students and is asking us to wait until next year to find out what it will pay to achieve the radical cuts to greenhouse emissions promised in last week's throne speech. But everyone making up to $100,000 got a 10 per cent tax cut. And corporations saw another $100 million lopped off their taxes, too.

[BC Finance Minister] Taylor's Do It Ourselves Budget:
Unveiling 2007 numbers
After tax cuts, it's far less than meets the eye.
By Will McMartin
February 21, 2007

Also from The Tyee:

Costco Rules, Wal-Mart Drools
Bucking a big-box myth, a student finds remarkable variations in how two giants do business
By Angela Wilson
February 20, 2007
Big-box business has a bad name. As one-stop shopping becomes the new retail model, specialty stores can no longer compete with multi-national corporations. With employee and growth policies that are fiercely criticized by activist groups, corporations like Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire are setting industry standards. However, emerging from the dismal landscape of the retail industry is an established and innovative competitor. Hidden behind skyrocketing stacks of bulk merchandise in warehouses across North America, Costco Corporation has been softly trying to introduce new industry standards since 1983.
[HINT: scroll to the bottom of the article to the readers' comments section for some interesting views by readers of The Tyee. ]

Is Child Poverty Up or Down?
The Tyee has an interesting article, Child Poverty is Down. No, it's Up, about two reports issued in the last couple months about child poverty. One report issued by the Fraser Institute claims that less than six per cent of Canadian children live in poverty; the other report issued by Campaign 2000 said the poverty rate for Canadian children was more than three times that, over 17 per cent. The Fraser Institute and Campaign 2000 define poverty very differently. The Fraser Institute includes the cost of only subsistence levels of food, clothing, housing and a few other necessities, while Campaign 2000 uses Stats Canada low income cutoffs below which families would find themselves living in "straitened circumstances."
Found in: PovNet

Seven Solutions to Homelessness
Each is working somewhere else, and will save money and lives here
January, 9 2007
Idea One: Trade Fairs for the Homeless
Idea Two: Raise the Welfare Rates
Idea Three: Train Young Workers
Idea Four: Spread the Love Around
Idea Five: Buy a Few Hotels
Idea Six: Give Addicts Time to Heal
Idea Seven: Bring Governments Together
- includes links to six more related articles that appeared in the Tyee during 2006 (scroll down to the bottom of the "Seven Solutions" article)

How BC Trimmed 107,000 People from Welfare Rolls
Some got jobs. Red tape, death likely knocked out far more.
By Andrew MacLeod
August 18, 2005
"It was almost like Dave Nash was trying to prove Premier Gordon Campbell wrong. Nash, an affable Victoria activist, was a long-term welfare recipient who was expected to work. But he didn't leave welfare for a job. In October, 2003, Nash died at the age of 55. Campbell and a succession of human resources ministers under him during the BC Liberals’ first mandate - Murray Coell, Stan Hagen and Susan Brice - have bragged that the rapidly shrinking welfare caseload is a result of a booming economy and people moving off welfare and into jobs. But as it turns out, Nash wasn't the only person to leave the welfare rolls via the morgue. The month he died, he was just one of 161 people who went out that way, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Between June 2002 and January 2005, a period of 32 months, 6,065 people on welfare died."

Libs' Welfare-to-Jobs Program a Bust, Reveals Delayed Report
Loses $13 million, high failure rate and neediest not served.
By Andrew MacLeod
August 11, 2005
One of the main arguments in favour of privately-run welfare-to-work programs like JobWave and Destinations has been that they don't really cost the taxpayer anything, since they are paid for out of what we save by moving people off of welfare. But an 11-month-old report prepared for the provincial government, quietly added to the province's website this week, shows that people in the programs do only marginally better in their job hunts than people who aren't in the programs. The government won't start saving money because of the programs for six or seven years, if ever."

Welfare's New Era: Survival of the Fittest - July 2004
The Tyee, a British Columbia based, online media site presented a four part series by Andrew MacLeod on the BC Government's 'New Era' welfare policies.
Part One: Welfare's New Era: Survival of the Fittest
Part Two: Where Did All the Welfare Cases Go?
Part Three: Welfare Reform's Public-Private Partnerships
Part Four: Shut Out at the Entrance

Highly recommended - excellent source of info on welfare reforms of the Campbell government in BC since 2001!


United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

List of issues to be taken up in connection with the consideration of the third periodic report of Canada : United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (June 10, 1998) 
- British Columbia Government Response to the U.N. List of Issues (November 1998)

Union of B.C. Municipalities

University of Victoria

Studies in Policy and Practice
"SPP is an innovative interdisciplinary MA graduate program of critical studies for professionals and non-professionals involved in activism,human services, and community work. The program provides graduates with a strong grounding in critical analysis for developing practice-based careers and pursuing advanced degrees in interdisciplinary studies and other disciplines."

- links to reports going back to May 2001 on a wide range of issues including: housing, the two-year welfare time limit in BC, women, disability, the Canada Pension Plan Disability Program, ananalysis of .C.'s Employment and Assistance (welfare) Acts, and much more...
[TIP: click "Past Publications" in the right-hand margin of the Publications page for previous years' reports.]

Some sample reports from SPP:

Housing Thousands of Women (focus on British Columbia)
By the Women's Housing Action Team (University of Victoria)
"On December 1, 2005, the Women's Housing Action Team and the University of Victoria released a major report, Housing Thousands of Women. There are two parts to the report: (1) Original research on housing experiences and requirements of older women, aboriginal, immigrant, and women living with disability, and (2) Policy implications for housing women, in particularly a graphic "Women's Housing Wheel" on the requirements for housing according to the realities and experiences of women."
Complete report:
Housing Thousands of Women: An edited collection
of the works of the Women’s Housing Action Team
(PDF file - 1.3MB, 129 pages)
December 2005

Studies in Policy and Practice Program (SPP) at the University of Victoria
Quality of Life CHALLENGE - "Demonstrating Care and Respect for Each Other, Our Community and the Environment"
The Quality of Life CHALLENGE is a comprehensive community initiative in British Columbia's capital region that brings people together to create solutions in the areas of housing, sustainable incomes, and community connections.

Envisioning the Future of Welfare Reform [in British Columbia] (PDF file - 17K, 2 pages)
Marge Reitsma-Street and Bruce Wallace
Special to Times Colonist, Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Housing Realities and Requirements for Women Living with Disabilities
in the Capital Region of British Columbia
(PDF file - 24K, 9 pages)
by Pam Alcorn, Heather Gropp, Joanne Neubauer, and Marge Reitsma-Street
January 2004
Women’s Housing Action Team, Victoria BC
"Over 21,000 women lived in low income households in the Victoria Capital Region and spent 30% of their income on shelter according to the authors of the report, “Housing Policy Options for Women Living in Urban Poverty: An Action Research Project in Three Canadian Cities”2 published in 2001. There is, however, little information on the housing situations or perceptions of women themselves who are living with disabilities. A research study by the Women’s Housing Action Teamwas conducted in 2003 to help redress this gap. This short report offers a commentary on the magnitude of concerns and a summary of housing realities and requirements identified by a diverse group of women living with visible and invisible physical disabilities in the Capital Regional District of British Columbia."

A Response to the Two Year Welfare Limits in British Columbia (PDF file - 133K, 7 pages)
Marge Reitsma-Street (University of Victoria)
Paper presented to the B.C. Association of Social Workers Fall Conference “The Power of Social Work “
Vancouver, November 15, 2003
"Is British Columbia going into history as the first province in the 21st century to exile certain groups of people as undeserving, unnecessary, redundant? Two years, and you are out."
Studies in Policy and Practice
[ Human and Social Development ]

A New Era of Welfare:
Analysis of the B.C.’s Employment and Assistance Acts
(PDF file - 219K, 11 pages)
Heather J. Michael and Dr. Marge Reitsma-Street
August 19, 2002
- In-depth analysis of the provisions of the new welfare legislation tabled in the Legislature, including the seven major changes resulting from the proposed BC Employment and Assistance Act :
1. Drastic new restrictions on eligibility.
2. Significant elimination of benefits.
3. Significant cuts in welfare benefits.
4. Significant increase in the use of for-profit firms determining eligibility and enforcing cuts and restrictions.
5. Significant increase in monitoring daily behaviors of workers and applicants.
6. Significant increase in punishments.
7. Drastic reductions in accessible, public, fair negotiating procedures regarding eligibility and benefits.
Source : Studies in Policy and Practice Program at the University of Victoria

Also by Dr. Reitsma-Street :

Nothing left to give : Cuts to jobs and services are strangling volunteerism, just when we need it the most
"Last year was the International Year of the Volunteer, acknowledging important contributions people make to their communities. This year, cuts to jobs, services and freedoms in the public and private sectors threaten the very conditions fostering those contributions."
Source : UVic Ring("University of Victoria's community newspaper") - February 7, 2002 issue
- Go to the UVIC Ring website (you can read back issues of the Ring from 1995 to date...)
[University of Victoria]


From the
University of Victoria Department of Geography:

Recent supplements to
The British Columbia Atlas of Wellness:

The original report:

The British Columbia Atlas of Wellness (2007)
The BC Atlas of Wellness was created in partnership with the University of Victoria Geography Department, and it uses the ActNow BC initiative (2005) as a framework to present its findings. It consists of more than 270 maps and supporting tables that provide data related to approximately 120 wellness-related indicators for B.C. communities, where positive and negative indicators are offset against each other to give an overall wellness score.

What's new?

Supplements to The BC Atlas of Wellness,
(organized in reverse chronological order)
based on data from the Canadian Community Health Survey:

* The Geography of Wellness and Well-being Across BC (2010)
This Supplement examines geographic patterns of wellness and wellbeing among the province's 16 Health Service Delivery Areas.

* The Geography of Wellness and Well-being Across Canada (2009)
This Supplement examines geographic patterns of wellness and wellbeing among Canadian provinces and territories, and it examines differences between genders and among differing age cohorts at the national and individual provincial and territorial levels.

* The Seniors Supplement (2008)
This supplement focuses on seniors’ wellness, and it provided maps of 39 separate indicators at the 16 Health Service Delivery Areas level for the province based on the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey.


Related links:

ActNow BC initiative (BC Govt.)
ActNow BC was introduced in early 2005 to encourage British Columbians to make healthy lifestyle choices to improve their quality of life, reduce the incidence of preventable chronic disease, and reduce the burden on the health care system. ActNow BC is an integrated, government-wide approach that engages the contributions of partners in other levels of government (e.g., municipalities), non-government organizations, schools, communities, and the private sector to develop and deliver programs and services to assist individuals to quit or never start smoking, to be more physically active, eat healthier foods, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and make healthy choices in pregnancy.

Urban Institute (U.S.)

Finding Out What Happens to Former Clients - U.S.
Publication Date: July 22, 2003
"To measure lasting effects of nonprofit programs, clients must be tracked after they leave services. Information on status at some point later--perhaps three, six, nine, or 12 months--is needed to measure outcomes, to assess program results, and to identify needed improvements. Drawing from lessons learned by community-based nonprofits, the guide offers practical advice on how to collect these data efficiently, successfully, and at reasonable cost. Primarily geared to meet the needs of nonprofit managers and professional social service staff, it offers step-by-step procedures, model materials (including planning tools and feedback forms), and suggestions for keeping costs low."
Table of Contents (HTML) - incl. full text of preface, acknowledgments and Introduction only
Complete report (PDF file - 252K, 43 pages)
Order Online (to obtain a paper copy)

The Changing City
Vancouver in 1978 and 2003

It's not social policy, but this collection of seven (times two) breathtaking panoramic photos of Vancouver in 1978 and 2003 is very impressive, and definitely worth sharing.
Clicking on one of the links opens a page with a photo of a particular section of the False Creek area in 1978; this photo slowly transforms into the same scene in 2003. Be sure to move the scroll bar at the bottom of the browser to the right as the photo changes to see the entire scene. If you use Netscape, this effect doesn't work, so you'll have to click "Rollover" and click on each of the two dates to see both photos. [You'll see what I mean when you try it.]
Excellent photographic evidence of the transformation of Vancouver in the last 25 years...
City of Vancouver website

The Rise and Fall of Welfare Time Limits in BC (PDF - 294K, 37 pages)
June 2008
By Bruce Wallace and Tim Richards
The Rise and Fall of Welfare Time Limits in BC documents the fascinating story behind the first attempt in Canadian history by a government to introduce welfare time limits. Under this policy, recipients who had been on assistance two years would be cut off of benefits for the ensuing three years. This report documents the dynamics of the opposition to time-limited welfare which led the government to capitulate on this element of its welfare reforms. In addition to the public record, it draws extensively on over 1,000 pages of internal government materials obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

" is profoundly important that the welfare time limits policy failed. It is important for the individuals who faced homelessness and hunger as a consequence of welfare time limits, important as an affirmation of basic societal values, and important to demonstrate to other provincial governments that time-limited welfare is not politically viable. We hope that the results of this “social experiment” in BC will help ensure that other provinces do not attempt to adopt similarly destructive policies."


Related links - see the BC Welfare Time Limits Links page:

Vancouver Community Network
Vancouver Community Network (VCN) is a non-profit Internet service provider that provides free services to assist individuals, community groups and non-profit organizations in accessing and utilizing the Internet to its fullest ability. We believe the information, resources and opportunities on the Internet should be accessible to all! We work to expand public access to computers and the Internet, provide educational services for their effective use and promote local content on the web.

The Vancouver Province

Welfare payments to be loaded on to debit cards for 20,000 (dead link)
February 01, 2008
The B.C. government plans to issue direct-debit cards to more than 20,000 welfare recipients who don't have a bank account. Each month, Victoria will load the welfare payments on to the debit cards, which can be used at any ATM or commercial outlet. (...) The direct-deposit program started in 2006 and has about 60,000 clients out of a possible 80,000.

Related link:

January 31, 2008
Province invests $200,000 in Direct Deposit initiative

News Release
VICTORIA – The Province is offering an incentive package that consists of a knapsack, warm socks, a toque and a pair of gloves to encourage income assistance clients to sign up for direct deposit, announced Claude Richmond, Minister of Employment and Income Assistance.
Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance

<...and, if the writers of This Hour has 22 Minutes were writing the next line of the above news release, it would read : "Minister Richmond is pleased to report that the initial response to the direct deposit incentive has been quite positive among those Income assistance clients who would prefer to not freeze their feet, head and hands this winter.">

Vancouver Public Library

Vancouver Status of Women
Our Vision: Freedom and self-determination for all through responsible, socially just, healthy and joyful communities both locally and globally.
- incl. links to : About VSW - Publications - Projects - Donations & Memberships - Volun teer Links - Staff Contact

Vancouver Sun

Selected site content:

Plight of poor in B.C. a shame (dead link)
By Mariann Burka
March 6, 2012
Re: Families' buying power eroding, Feb. 28
I am ashamed to read in the Dietitians of Canada report that British Columbians on income assistance, and many low-income wage earners, are unable to meet basic nutritional needs. Although governments of all stripes claim to put children and families first, B.C. has a disgraceful record with the highest child poverty rate in Canada for eight years. While the cost of food has risen substantially, income assistance support allowances for food have not increased since 2001. How can anyone say rates are adequate? Research has shown that poverty has long-term consequences for both individuals and society. Hungry or undernourished children do not learn or develop as well mentally or physically. It is also difficult finding a job when you are skipping meals or worrying about feeding your kids. As tax-payers, we also pay with lower educational achievement, lower economic productivity, higher health care costs and increased crime and policing costs. I applaud the dietitians for their report and recommendations. It is time we joined other provinces in establishing a clear poverty-reduction strategy and, as a first step, let's update our income-assistance rates to reflect the true cost of living.
[ Author Mariann Burka is former director of the BC Employment and Assistance Program (social assistance).]

Vancouver Sun


The above letter to the editor of the Vancouver Sun
was written in response to the following article:

Families' buying power eroding:
47 per cent of income needed to eat well: report
(dead link)
By Randy Shore
February 28, 2012
A family of four on income assistance in B.C. would have to spend 47 per cent of its income to buy the minimum amount of food needed to remain healthy, according to a new report by the Dietitians of Canada B.C. region.
Cost of Eating in British Columbia 2011, released today, puts the monthly cost of a basic food basket for a typical family, without any takeout meals or prepackaged foods, at an average of $868.43 across B.C

Surrey MLA Brar pledges to live on $0 a month (dead link)
In an attempt to draw attention to meagre welfare rates in the province,
the MLA for Surrey-Fleetwood is pledging to live on $610 for a month
By Doug Ward
November 28, 2011
VANCOUVER — Twenty-five years after NDP member of the B.C. legislature Emery Barnes spent seven weeks living as if he was on welfare, B.C. politician Jagrup Brar has volunteered to repeat the experiment for a month."I want to experience first-hand what life is like for the 180,000 British Columbians who live on welfare," said Brar, who will live on $610, the current welfare rate, for the month of January.The 52-year-old former member of India's national basketball team said Monday he plans to live in single-room-occupancy hotels in Surrey, B.C.'s Whalley area and in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Brar is taking up the challenge by the anti-poverty group Raise the Rates for members of the provincial legislature to live on the welfare rate for a month. Raise the Rates also issued the dare to the B.C. Liberal caucus, but got no takers.
Vancouver Sun


B.C. welfare payments are adequate
For the most part, they line up with basic needs;
where they don't, for employable singles, there is a reason
(dead link)
January 26, 2012
By Niels Veldhuis, Amela Karabegovic, and Milagros Palacios
The authors are economists with the Fraser Institute -

Vancouver Sun


Going for gold on minimum wages (dead link)
By Marjorie Griffin Cohen and Iglika Ivanova
January 20, 2010
As we prepare to cheer for our athletes during the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, it's worth remembering the fields in which B.C. isn't going for the gold. Ensuring that work is a guaranteed way out of poverty, for example. It's a little-known fact, but "the best place on Earth" is now home of the lowest minimum wages in Canada. Our minimum wage has been frozen at $8 per hour (and an embarrassingly low $6 for the first 500 hours of work) since 2001, and there is little indication that this is about to change any time soon.

[ more Vancouver Sun articles on the minimum wage ]

How does that compare
with other Canadian jurisdictions?

Current And Forthcoming Minimum Hourly Wage Rates For Adult Workers in Canada
(this is the BEST resource for info on current and upcoming minimum wage levels by province/territory)

Minimum Hourly Wages for Canadian Adult Workers since 1965
This information is presented in five files - one for each decade.
The link above takes you to the latest decade (2005 to 2014);
click the date links at the top of the page for pages for earlier decades.

Minimum Wage Database
[ Employment Standards Legislation in Canada ]
[ Labour Program, Human Resources and Social Development Canada ]

- Go to the Minimum Wage /Living Wage Links page:


B.C. increases budget for welfare, kindergarten and forest fires (dead link)
By Rebecca teBrake
September 1, 2009
The provincial government will spend more on welfare, kindergarten and forest fires despite announcing $3.4 billion in spending cuts. Tuesday’s budget update was a sombre affair for the most part, with Finance Minister Colin Hansen announcing a $2.8-billion deficit and $3.4 billion in budget cuts over the next three years. But the province will increase spending to the tune of $1.1 billion in priority areas including welfare, emergency homeless shelters, prosecutions, forest fires, municipal infrastructure, treaties, tourism and kindergarten.
NOTE: for links to the September 2009 BC Budget Update and analysis of those measures,
go to the 2009 Canadian Government Budgets Links page:


Children of Poverty: 14 years later (dead link)
April 11, 2008
Fourteen years ago, reporter Larry Pynn co-authored a 12-page special report in the Vancouver Sun about poverty in Vancouver and in British Columbia. In this new series, Pynn revisits two of the children whose circumstances he had profiled 14 years earlier, Ayla and Kandice ). This special report also includes perspectives on teen parents and youth issues in Terrace, along with the two following items that I wanted to flag in particular:

Full 12-page section Children of Poverty from May 7, 1994 (PDF - 17.5 MB) (dead link)
- well worth the download time --- 12 pages of valuable historical information on poverty and government programs in BC in 1994!

Opposing signs on downtown eastside: (dead link)
Booming economic activity of construction towers
over a community of the homeless, the mentally ill and the addicted

By Larry Pynn
April 11, 2008
Fewer poor people but deeper poverty, say BC social advocacy champions Jean Swanson and Michael Goldberg.
[Scroll to the bottom of the article for the B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition's ten-step plan to alleviate child poverty in BC]

Related link:

First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition
First Call is a coalition of individuals and organizations whose purpose is to create greater understanding of and advocacy for legislation, policy, and practice to ensure that all children and youth have the opportunities and resources required to achieve their full potential and to participate in the challenges of creating a better society.

Speaking of Michael Goldberg...

Brief to the Senate on Urban Child Poverty (2008) (PDF - 187K, 14 pages)
In February 2008, First Call Chair Michael Goldberg presented to the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on the topic of urban child poverty. This briefing is an overview of topics including measuring poverty; child poverty rates; and the interaction between market income, social security benefits, taxation and statutory deductions, and income tested social programs.

Vancouver Youth Outreach Team (City of Vancouver)
The Youth Outreach Team is made up of youth, hired on as city staff to move forward the Civic Youth Strategy, the City of Vancouver's 1995 policy commitment to supporting youth and involving them in decision making. Hiring youth as staff in 2003 was a new step for the municipality. With youth staffs dedicated to improving youth involvement in the municipality, the City can now tap into their expertise and connections in the community to move forward the four
goals of the Civic Youth Strategy:
- Ensure that youth have "A PLACE" in the City
- Ensure a strong youth VOICE in decision-making
- Promote youth AS A RESOURCE to the City
- Strengthen the SUPPORT BASE for youth in the City

The Youth Outreach Team is a model of youth engagement for the Civic Youth Strategy. The primary role of the Team is to increase the meaningful participation of youth in municipal decision making by:
* Providing expertise to City staff around youth engagement to programs and projects that have a mandate to engage citizens including youth
* Acting as a bridge between City staff, youth (ages 13-24) and youth organizations
* Functioning as "guides" for youth to access the municipal system
* Convening youth and City staff to address issues or working on projects of mutual interest

Victoria Times Colonist

Selected links:

Editorial: [Welfare] Assistance rates shame our province
August 30, 2011
(...) Benefit levels are set by the government to ensure a life of desperate poverty. A single disabled person receives up to $375 a month for shelter. (MLAs can claim up to $1,580 a month for a second home in the capital.) Imagine what kind of accommodation is available for that amount in this region, and living in those conditions with terminal cancer.
The government provides $531 a month for all other expenses - food, non-prescription medications, utilities, clothes and everything else. That is, at most, $18 a day. (...) For a parent with one child, the province provides $570 for accommodation and $672 for everything else. (...) Certainly, income assistance rates should encourage people to seek employment. Some might argue that those on welfare are paying the price for bad choices. But people do not choose to become disabled. Children do not choose to be born into poverty. And B.C.'s assistance rates are so inadequate as to be destructive. The rates have been increased once since 1994, in 2007. That is also a mark of government indifference to the plight of some of the province's poorest people.
Victoria Times-Colonist

Related link:

Raise the Rates
Raise the Rates is a coalition of over 20 organizations from around BC concerned with the level of poverty and homelessness in British Columbia and campaigns for policies that will end poverty.


More BC Poverty Reduction links
- this link takes you to the BC section of the
Anti-poverty Strategies and Campaigns page of this site:


Poverty ideas abound --- will is the issue (dead link)
By Les Leyne
May 27, 2010
Expectations rose so high so fast after a legislature committee agreed to hold a public meeting on poverty that the chair felt the need to dampen the anticipation. Liberal MLA Joan McIntyre told participants at a day-long thinkfest last Friday that the session was just to foster awareness. "I wanted to also clarify that developing a strategy or even providing a written analysis does go beyond our terms of reference and crosses over into the realm of government policy-making," she said.
Steve Kerstetter, a researcher for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, told MLAs: "If the goal is to redirect other money to fight poverty, it's just not going to work. There's just not enough money you can redirect that's going to make a difference." By one estimate, there's a $2-billion poverty gap that needs to be filled by society as a whole, he said. And government redistribution just won't get it done.

Campbell turns back on kids (dead link)
June 27, 2009
What is Premier Gordon Campbell thinking? The province, according to Statistics Canada, has had the highest rate of child poverty in Canada for the past six years. The problems are increasing as more people lose their jobs. Yet Campbell has refused to meet with the Representative for Children and Youth to discuss ways of improving the lives of poor children.Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond asked for a joint meeting with Campbell and NDP Leader Carole James. The situation is urgent, she said, and should be above partisan politics. The leaders should co-operate on plans to make things better for children at a tough time. James said yes. Campbell refused even a meeting.
Victoria Times Colonist

Campbell sees bleak welfare trap --- will he act? (dead link)
By Paul Willcocks,
June 5, 2009
Premier Gordon Campbell has discovered that the province's low welfare rates are hurting people and communities. A bit late, in terms of the poverty problem, but still welcome. Or it would be, if there was a clearer sense that the government is prepared to do something about it. (...) It's important to head off a flood of out-of-work people falling on to welfare, he said. The federal government should reach a deal with B.C. The province will chip in what it would have spent on welfare for each person; the federal government should add money to that and keep them on employment insurance for up to two years. Why? Campbell made the case in an op-ed column in the Globe and Mail [see the G&M link below]. "Income assistance is clearly the last social safety net into which any worker wants to fall," he wrote. "Not only are the monthly benefits often less than those payable under EI, but those who are forced to go on welfare risk entering a cycle of dependency that is tough on families, communities and our economy."
Victoria Times Colonist

Contracting social services a risky bet
Huge U.S. firm taking over back-to-work programs for the disabled
(dead link)
By Jody Paterson
September 21, 2007
For better or worse, the bulk of B.C.'s back-to-work programs for people with disabilities are now under the control of a large, aggressive American corporation. The ink is barely dry on the Aug. 3 agreement that saw the sale of the local company that has run the programs up until now -- WCG International -- to Arizona's Providence Service Corp. So it's much too soon to speculate whether clients will notice any difference, or to assume that it's automatically a bad thing when one more big U.S. company takes over yet another aspect of B.C.'s human services. But man, I get cold shivers down my spine when I think about how easily British Columbians are giving this stuff up, all of it without a whisper of public debate. Providence in particular is a heavy-duty acquisitor of government social-service contracts, and delighted to be gaining its first foothold in Canada.

Related links:

WCG International
--- Tucson-based Providence Service Corp. expands to Canada (August 3, 2007 - small one-page PDF file) [Excerpt: "The $9.8 million purchase is expected to produce $25 million in revenue for Providence..."]

Providence Service Corporation - "Human services without walls"
--- Workforce Development Services

From The Tyee:

Libs' Welfare-to-Jobs Program a Bust, Reveals Delayed Report
Loses $13 million, high failure rate and neediest not served.
August 11, 2005

Welfare Reform's Public-Private Partnerships
July 13, 2004
The Fraser Institute says they're a huge advance in social policy. Critics say work placement companies are growing rich but doing little.

Special note to my fellow Ontarians who might read this:

The Province of Ontario also has a contract with WCG International (JobsNow). So where's that one going, one wonders...
This is disconcerting to me, because the bottom line in the corporate sector is generally profit margin first, client's best interest second - and often a distant second. As noted in the above Times Colonist article, for companies like Providence there's a financial interest in maintaining poverty and suffering and that's just not right.
Simply put, governments that outsource human services to the private sector are shirking their responsibilities to their most disadvantaged citizens. Period.

Vital Signs
Vital Signs
is a community check-up conducted by community foundations across Canada. It measures the vitality of our communities, identifies major trends, and assigns grades in a range of areas critical to our quality of life. Vital Signs is coordinated nationally by Community Foundations of Canada. More than 30 community foundations are involved in Vital Signs program – either producing a report or acting on the findings of previous reports.

Canada’s Vital Signs 2012 digs deep into youth issues
September 18, 2012
Each fall Community Foundations of Canada releases its national Vital Signs report, and youth issues have consistently been flagged every year since its inception in 2006. We know education, employment, health and technology are among the huge concerns facing Canada’s young people. That’s why we’re dedicating Canada’s Vital Signs 2012 to youth, making connections between research in various areas to provide a critical snapshot of the issues facing Canadian youth at this point in our history

Indicators used in the report:
* Arts & culture * Belonging & engagement * Economy * Environmental sustainability * Health & Wellness * Housing * Learning * Safety * Sports & recreation * Standard of living * Transportation

Vital Signs 2012 : Local Reports
NOTE : Includes links to previous years' editions of Vital Signs (back to 2007)

The following cities and towns have released (or will release) Vital Signs reports in 2012:
* Victoria ---
* Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve Region ---
* Sunshine Coast ---

* Calgary
* Medicine Hat ---
* Winkler ---
* London ---
* Waterloo Region ---
* Toronto ---
* Hamilton ---
* Burlington
* Sudbury
* Kingston
* Montreal
* Halifax

Vital Signs 2012 : National Findings
* Work: Employment Rate (15 years of age and older)
* Getting Started: Youth (15 to 24 years of age) Unemployment Rate
* Health: Proportion of Babies with Low Birth Weight
* Environment: Total Average Daily Flow of Water for Residential Use
* Canadians who are charged a meter rate based on volume seem to use much less water
* Gap Between Rich and Poor: Elderly (65 years of age and older) Poverty Rate
* Housing: Percentage of Households Spending 30% or More of Income on Housing
* Canadians who allocate a high proportion of their income for housing are more vulnerable to an abrupt change in financial circumstances
* Learning: Aboriginal Canadian High School Completion Rates
* Arts and Culture: Circulation of Library Items per Capita
* Belonging and Leadership: Charitable Donors as a Proportion of Tax Filers
* Safety: Total Violent Criminal Code Violations per 100,000 People

More information about Vital Signs:

Wellbeing thru Inclusion Socially and Economically (WISE) (dead link)
"WISE began in the summer of 2003, as one woman's vision. In exasperation with a system that seemed to have no heart, "Chris" wrote her story of painful marginalization. With the urging of friends, the story came to the attention of an understanding Programs Officer at Status of Women Canada. Together, they convinced Chris to write a proposal for a project on women's poverty, and once accepted, the rest, as they say, is history. WISE is now a grassroots BC-registered nonprofit society whose mission is to organize, represent, act on behalf of, and join together with persons in British Columbia whose lives are negatively affected by policies of exclusion."

'Invisible Women' Tell Their Stories (dead link)
November 13, 2004
Vancouver Sun - by Stephen Hume
"A unique project in the Cowichan Valley
aims to empower them and end their sense of isolation"

"WISE recently released its Phase 1 report on a project whose focus was exploring the links between policy, poverty and health. The project had the twofold purpose of collecting stories from women living in the Cowichan Valley whose incomes are below Canada’s poverty line and providing a vehicle for these women to raise their concerns and offer recommendations for constructive change. The Phase 1 report detailed the dominant issues in the stories. Among its findings: The #1 effect of the women’s poverty was an alarming deterioration of their emotional wellbeing or mental health.

Now WISE has collected the 21 stories into a book Policies of Exclusion, Poverty and Health: Stories from the Front, which also includes the Phase 1 and Phase 2 (storytellers’ recommendations) reports. Because two thirds of the Phase 2 report has our women in poverty talking to other women in poverty about what to do to “mobilize, galvanize, and politicize,” we urge organizations who have contact with women in poverty to get a copy of the book to share with them.

The book has gone to press and will be available for shipping by mid-December. Proceeds will go directly to the storyteller group to help them act on the second stage of their recommendations.


Policies of Exclusion, Poverty and Health : Stories from the Front
Project Report : Phase 1 - The Issues
(PDF file - 498K, 23 pages) (dead link)
October 2004
"This report outlines the findings from 21 stories which were collected during Phase I of WISE's project "Policies of Exclusion, Poverty and Health: Stories from the Front." Its companion report, Phase II - The Recommendations, will be available shortly. There were three criteria for eligibility: i) the participant must be female, ii) her household income must fall below the Low Income Cut Offs (2003) and iii) she must live in the Cowichan Valley, a geographical region on Vancouver Island that encompasses small urban and rural communities."
- details the issues (predictors, and the primary and secondary conditions and effects) that feature dominantly in participants' stories.

Wellesley Institute

BC auditor confirms that province's homeless programs "not successful" (dead link)
March 6, 2009
By Michael Shapcott
John Doyle, the British Columbia auditor, has just released a sobering review of homelessness programs that concludes that the provincial government “has not been successful in reducing homelessness. Clear goals and objectives for homelessness and adequate accountability for results remain outstanding. Government also lacks adequate information about the homeless and about the services already available to them — this hampers effective decision making. Finally, government has not yet established appropriate indicators of success to improve public accountability for results.” The auditor’s report echoes many of the themes raised by the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing in the final report on his fact-finding mission to Canada (See the links immediately below), which will be tabled at the UN Human Rights Council on Monday. The auditor calls for a much more thorough and pragmatic plan to end homelessness in British Columbia, and notes that many other jurisdictions have already adopted solid plans.
Wellesley Institute Blog
[ Wellesley Institute ]

Westcoast Indie News (blog)
Independent media, information and community events from a more diverse social justice perspective.

West Coast LEAF (Legal Education and Action Fund)
"West Coast LEAF was founded in 1985 at the same time as National LEAF, by a group of women who wished to create an organization to carry on the work of the national Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) in British Columbia. Both organizations were strategically started when the equality guarantees of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into force, in order to change historical patterns of systemic discrimination against women. West Coast LEAF is the largest branch of National LEAF outside of Ontario. In addition, West Coast LEAF is an incorporated non-profit society in British Columbia and a federally registered charity."

B.C. gets “barely passing grade” on women’s equality from Vancouver legal group (dead link)
October 18, 2012
In a report released today, the West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund gave a score of C- in its assessment of how B.C. is measuring up to obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women [ ].


Women's Rights and Freedoms: 20 Years (In) Equality - Conference
April 28, 2005 - May 1, 2005
Vancouver, BC
National conference hosted by the West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund (West Coast LEAF) and the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL). The Conference will be bilingual and will strive towards accessibility. The focus of the Conference will be the 20th anniversary of the equality requirements (Section 15) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 15, which is part of the supreme law of Canada, prohibits discrimination by Government on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, and other grounds. The Conference will include discussions on how the Charter affects women and our rights. The Conference is expected to provide information on the law and discrimination, as well as a unique opportunity to meet, strategize and share information with activists, community workers, lawyers, and others from across the country about what actions we can take to advance women's rights.

Related Links:

West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund
National Association of Women and the Law

Legal Aid and Family Law: Women’s Access to Justice
Affidavit Campaign 2003
Coordinated by West Coast LEAF (British Columbia)
"As part of our efforts to restore legal aid in B.C, West Coast LEAF will launch an Affidavit Campaign this summer to collect convincing evidence from across the province that reflects the true impacts of the cuts to legal aid programs on women and others most affected. The majority of those affected include women, single mothers, and people with disabilities. Our goal is to make a case for the restoration of the services through law reform efforts or via test case litigation."
Source : West Coast LEAF (Legal Education and Action Fund)
[The LEAF site includes info organized under the following topics : About Us - Educational Programs - Issues - In The Courts - Law Reform - Fundraising - Resources - Contact]

West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund
West Coast LEAF’s mission is to achieve equality by changing historic patterns of discrimination against women through BC based equality rights litigation, law reform, and public legal education

Women's Economic Justice Project (dead link)
("In July 2005 the Women's Livable Income Working Group (c/o SWAG) began an 18 month project funded by Status of Women Canada to examine how women would benefit from a Guaranteed Livable Income.")

Women’s Economic Justice Project:
An Examination of How Women Would Benefit from a
Guaranteed Livable Income
(British Columbia)

(dead link)
April 2006 Revised June 2006
"The report documents discussions that formed a sort of grassroots women's think tank to examine the benefits, particularly to women, of a Guaranteed Livable Income. The project intended to look beyond current, and almost universally dominant, proposed solutions to poverty -- economic growth, jobs, daycare and welfare."

Working TV
"working TV is a labour television program broadcast weekly on community access television in the province of British Columbia, Canada. (...) We are primarily a labour show, focusing on union issues. This derives from our original mandate: to counter the marginalization and censorship of labour by mainstream television broadcasters, with labour positive programming produced by working people, for working people."

WORKink British Columbia "The Virtual Employment Resource Centre"
Career and Employment Resources for Persons with Disabilities 
- Links to a wide range of information for people with disabilities and those who support them. 
Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work

See also:
- British Columbia NGO Links (A-C)
- British Columbia Government Links



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