March 9, 2017
Cranbrook’s slogan is “Mountains of Opportunity” for an active, safe lifestyle within an urban setting. Yet the truth is just like other places in Canada and B.C., our community has numerous poverty concerns.
The federal and provincial government acknowledge that poverty exists in Canada and there are exceptionally high rates in B.C. According to the 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card, 16% of British Columbians live below the poverty line. Despite this concerning statistic, British Columbia is Canada’s only province or territory that has not established or made commitments towards a poverty reduction strategy.
Poverty is not having the means or resources to meet the needs of an individual, family or community. Poverty is having to choose between groceries or rent, a coat or school trip, a car or heat in the home, spending time with family or getting a second job to support them. It is stress, stigma, isolation and defeat. It is making choices not because we want too, but because we are forced to in order to survive. It is a cycle of barriers preventing access to healthy foods, education, housing, living-wage employment and resources that allow us to live our daily lives.
The City of Cranbrook’s budget estimates spending approximately 14% of its revenue on poverty related expenses including tax exemptions, grants, protective services and healthcare. According to a recent Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report the estimated provincial cost of a comprehensive poverty reduction plan in B.C., is $3 billion per year. The estimated current yearly cost of doing nothing is $9.2 billion.