Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Groups challenge parties to cut poverty, end homelessness

Reducing poverty and homelessness should be the law in British Columbia, according to a letter released this morning and signed by 200 groups and community leaders.

The groups—which include charities, unions, municipalities and health advocates—challenged the province's political parties to commit to “Legislated targets and timelines to reduce B.C.'s poverty rate by one third within four years, and end street homelessness within two years.”

When Premier Gordon Campbell wanted to show he was serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change, he set legislated targets, said Seth Klein, the B.C. Director for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. He asked, “Why not for poverty and homelessness reduction?”

Housing and Social Development minister Rich Coleman was not available by posting time.

The NDP supports setting targets and measuring to see if they are being met, said leader Carole James.

“Whether these are the right targets or not, that's a conversation I'd like to have,” she said. After hearing the details, she said, “I think those are ambitious targets. I don't know if that's realistic, but I think you have to start somewhere.”

The target for eliminating homelessness within two years would be particularly tough, she said.

In November James introduced a private member's bill, the Elimination of Homelessness Crisis Act, 2008, that if passed would have required the housing and social development minister to set a five-year plan for eliminating homelessness.

If elected, she said, the NDP would make creating long term care beds for seniors and affordable housing a priority. Both are areas Campbell has neglected, she said. “Maybe it's not as good a photo op as standing in front of B.C. Place with a hardhat on.”

Told of James' response, Klein agreed the targets are ambitious, and rightly so. “She's being cautious. I can live with that for now.”

The campaign will continue and hopefully gain momentum, he said. “We all need to see this as a long term effort. My hope is the campaign will grow and as we get closer to the election all parties will realize they need to respond in some non-waffly way.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus