At a press conference held by the Community Social Planning Council in Greater Victoria, a cross partisan group of MPs and MLAs endorsed the Community Action Plan on Poverty and spoke on the need for collaborative policy and action. Building on the vision shared at the Board Voice conference in Vancouver BC, Andrew Weaver spoke of the “opportunity to rethink how we address the social challenges that for years have afflicted British Columbians—our families, friends, neighbours, and ourselves.”
Statement by Andrew Weaver MLA – Community Action Plan on Poverty
“We’re here today in recognition that poverty is systemic within our community. But this is not new. For over a decade British Columbia has had the worst, or second worst, child poverty rate in Canada. The challenge confronting us is: “What can we do collaboratively to help eliminate poverty in our region”.
Each and every person living in Greater Victoria needs to recognize that poverty affects all of us. We need to recognize that working to end poverty is not only the right thing to do from a social perspective. But it is also the right thing to do economically. It simply costs society much more to let our most vulnerable fall through the cracks and end up homeless or on the streets.
How can we not act on the knowledge that thousands of people each year turn to food banks just to get by?
Like you, I believe we have a responsibility as a society to end poverty. Achieving this goal will require an overarching provincial strategy that fosters locally-based solutions. While Carol James and I, local first nations and the rest of you, continue to advocate for the development of that provincial strategy, we must all continue with our work in the community. That’s why we are here today.
The Community Action Plan on Poverty offers a local and grassroots approach to addressing poverty in our community. Its vision and guiding principles are inclusive, supportive and respectful. I am proud to support CAPP and I commit to doing my part as both an individual and as an MLA.
Collaboration and cooperation must be at the root of any successful poverty reduction strategy. I believe that when organizations as diverse as the Community Social Planning Council, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (now rebranded as Island Health), and the Victoria Downtown Public Market Society all work together on initiatives to reduce poverty, it represents a will to accomplish significant results. I truly am proud to support this collaborative action.
I am committed to doing my part to help address the 10 key focus areas identified by CAPP. Let me go further and commit to specifically focusing on three areas: Health, Housing and the development of a Strong Local Economy.
In addressing health within our community, I will continue to speak out on our need to improve access to and the transition from adolescent mental health services. Prevention is a key component of any poverty reduction strategy. Yet at the moment we do not have a coherent and effective system for treating adolescent mental health and as a result, too many of our youth end up falling through the cracks, particularly as they transition to adulthood.
I also plan to continue advocating for further investment into affordable housing, starting with the 2014 budget debate. Investment into affordable housing is sorely needed in the capital regional district where the average rent of a bachelor suite is more than one can obtain from a social assistance cheque.
Finally, I have been and will continue to be a strong proponent of building a dynamic and resilient local economy. As one example, I see the development of the clean-tech sector as an economic, social and environmental strategy that will provide communities with high-paying, stable, and long-term jobs. Developing a resilient, local economy will help provide the foundation for an effective poverty reduction strategy.
These are but three actions that I will commit to taking. But that’s not the end. If you have suggestions of other concrete steps I can take, I encourage you to please let me know. I am excited to be working with you to advance these goals.”
Endorsement of CAPP letter from Andrew Weaver