Saturday, November 26, 2011

Plan? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Plan!


After all, if you are the newly-minted (not)Premier of a government that has given the province of British Columbia the worst child poverty rates in Canada for eight straight years, why would you want to have a plan to put an end to a Campbellerian winning streak like that?

Paul Willcocks has the story:

...(W)hen it was reported that B.C. had the highest rate of child poverty in Canada for the eighth consecutive year, Premier Christy Clark rejected calls for a plan to address the problem, with targets, actions and a requirement for an annual report on “progress or lack of progress,” to use Falcon’s words.

Why no plan? Clark and the other ministers never offered a coherent reason.

Because there isn’t one.

The facts are clear. The annual national look at child poverty, released by First Call, an advocacy group, found that 12 per cent to 16.4 per cent of B.C. children were living in poverty in 2009. That’s the highest proportion of poor kids of any province, a dismal ranking B.C. has retained for eight years. (You can debate poverty measures, but the fact remains this province is the worst.)...

{Snippety Doo-Dah}

...Clark said the government doesn’t need a plan. It’s doing things like raising the minimum wage and providing housing supports and launching job strategies. Those will help reduce child poverty.

Maybe, though it’s an odd claim since the government has insisted for most of the last decade that raising the minimum wage wouldn’t reduce poverty.

But a bunch of random actions aren’t a plan. There’s no objective, even a modest one like moving B.C. from the worst in Canada to the seventh worst. There’s no estimate of the effect of any actions on reducing poverty..."


One of the reasons, amongst many, that I enjoy reading Mr. Willcocks' stuff is that he often offers up well thought-out potential solutions to real problems. Here is how he ended this particular piece:

"...A plan could make quick progress. About one-third of the children living in poverty have parents dependent on income assistance or disability benefits. (A single parent with two children who is deemed employable gets up to $660 a month for housing and another $623 a month for everything else.) Providing enough support to lift those children out of poverty, or allowing their parents to earn some money without losing benefits, would move B.C. into the top half of the rankings..."


Just do it Ms. Clark.

And if you do, I would be happy if you raised my provincial income tax rate to help pay for it.


And, perhaps even like Ms. Clark herself, I did it again last night.... No! ...I'm not talking about anything like that...Instead, I'm talking about how I forgot to change the channel after listening to Mr. Russell and Brook 'My Head Is Now Officially An Empty Suitcase' Ward kibbutz about last night's Canucklehead's game in front of the hometeam crowd in Glendale Arizona and thus woke up this morning to the former Premier's brother ranting and raving about how everything is all the public sector unions' fault....Ya, sure thing Mr. Campbell...After all, if only we had even more speculation, ponzi schemes and privatized profit piles built with public money and tranche-laden gossmer-winged walls of crony-laced bamboozleified bullshit that sucks all the real value out of entire economies everything would be just fine...Right?



Rusty M said...

This non-elected premiere isn't rushing into anything that isn't a photo op ... the same way she hasn't rushed to an election, or rushed to remove the HST, or rushed to address child poverty or any other important issues ...

The only things she's rushed into are patronage appointments of friends and family.

Rick Barnes said...

It astounds me as to how blind Christy Clark can be. Then I remember her record as Education Minister. Just call the damn election now!

Ole said...

My question is, when did poverty become "child" poverty? I guess I have heard the term for at least 10 years now, but the very first time I heard it, I thought child poverty meant that the kids didn't get an allowance.

My sisters and I grew up in abject poverty, in conditions that would rival those on any native reserve.

We have lived in a chicken coop that was converted into a house by dividing it into 2 rooms, one was the "kitchen", the second the "bedroom". There was no insulation in the walls and the only heat came from a wood-burning stove that needed constant feeding. Light came from a kerosene lamp on the kitchen table.

At least we had drinkable water, but it meant a trip with the pail to the pump outside, and of course there were no "facilities", save for the drafty 2-holer some distance from the "house".

Another "house" we lived in was a streetcar. I could go on, but you get the idea.

My goal is not to stir sympathetic hearts, but to say that as a child I never realized we were poor, likely because it was just the way things were.

Poverty was a condition that was shared by the entire family, not just us 3 children. As kids we accepted it, but it was extremely difficult for my parents who wished with all their might that they could have provided better for us.

I think they suffered far more than we did. Not long ago I got to reminiscing about the "good ol' days" with my mother. She burst into tears remembering those difficult times, and I felt terrible for bringing up the subject.

So, still the question: why "child" poverty? Is it a term someone thought up to elicit greater sympathy?

So, to everyone, please remember, if there's a child in poverty, there is also a parent in poverty, who suffers as much if not more.

I really wish the term child poverty would be banished from use.

Thanks for indulging me in my rant!

paul said...

Allowing people on income assistance to keep some employment income is a complete no-brainer, but the government won't do it.
This is from a column last year:

"The rules grind people into perpetual poverty. In B.C., for example, people on disability assistance or with persistent barriers to employment can earn up to $500 a month without penalty.
But for 48,000 people on income assistance, the government claws back any part-time employment income. Hustle up some work cutting lawns and make $40, and it's deducted from your welfare cheque.
It's a cruel disincentive for people trying to get back into the workforce.
In Alberta, recipients get to keep the first $230 they can earn and one-quarter of any earnings above that. The government says people are "encouraged and supported to work" while on welfare. "Employment can increase their total income and provide valuable work experience."

Ole: Good rant. I wouldn't be too quick to abandon the phrase child poverty, even though you are right. I think there's a lower tolerance out there for the thought of poor children than for poor adults, and thus a greater chance of action.