British Columbia’s NDP government is considering the implementation of a basic income to reduce poverty in the province.
Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson says the government is consulting with Ontario and other jurisdictions on its plans for a pilot project testing to see if the idea would improve health, housing and job prospects.
Simpson says the government is also setting targets and laying out a timeline in an attempt to cut the poverty rate with a series of public consultations in 20 communities to help develop its plan.
According to Simpson, the consultations will also allow the provincial government to identify causes of poverty and approaches to reducing the number of poor. The province has appointed a 27-member forum to shape the poverty-reduction strategy.
“Broadly, in terms of the content of that legislation and we’ll be getting that advice, that’ll be one of the first tasks for the forum will be to give me that advice and that will help frame the drafting of the legislation that I expect to take place probably in late January,” Simpson said.
Another part of the poverty reduction plan is a website where people can contribute their thoughts on how to reduce poverty. Feedback can be submitted online until March 30, 2018 at 4 p.m.
The NDP made poverty reduction one of its key election promises last spring after years of labelling the former Liberal government as cold-hearted for rejecting plans to reduce one of the highest child-poverty rates in Canada.
Simpson says recent statistics show B.C. has the highest poverty rate in Canada, with 678,000 people living in poverty.
With files from The Canadian Press