With Christy Clark firmly back in the premier’s seat, it’s time to see a “families-first” philosophy kick into overdrive.
Much of what is found in the rhetoric-heavy B.C. premier’s Families First Agenda for Change are targets revolving around job growth. But if you’re part of a family with two working parents who are still just scraping by, Clark’s families first commitments to harmonize approval processes between federal and provincial governments, extend the Oil and Gas Road Improvement Program and harmonize bio-energy strategies offer little hope of immediate improvement. And, for many, improvement is needed now.
Case in point: B.C. continues to have one of the highest child poverty rates in Canada. The poverty rate for children living with a single parent (mother) rose from 16.4 per cent to 24.6. A low annual income for this category, according to StatsCan, is $23,498, based on living in a large city.
While Clark has followed through on her promise to finally raise the province’s minimum wage (previously another national low), statistics show median incomes have been stagnant since 1982. Meanwhile, the annual cost of living, particularly for families, has risen. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives states that families (two parents, two children) in the Okanagan need to be pulling in $75,000 (gross) annually in order to make a “living wage.” Gambling B.C.’s economy on liquid natural gas does nothing to quell the struggle families face now.