Plight of poor in B.C. a shame

Letter: Mariann Burka, Victoria; Vancouver Sun

Re: Families’ buying power eroding, Feb. 28

I am ashamed to read in the Dietitians of Canada report that British Columbians on income assistance, and many low-income wage earners, are unable to meet basic nutritional needs.

Although governments of all stripes claim to put children and families first, B.C. has a disgraceful record with the highest child poverty rate in Canada for eight years.

While the cost of food has risen substantially, income assistance support allowances for food have not increased since 2001. How can anyone say rates are adequate?

Research has shown that poverty has long-term consequences for both individuals and society. Hungry or undernourished children do not learn or develop as well mentally or physically. It is also difficult finding a job when you are skipping meals or worrying about feeding your kids. As tax-payers, we also pay with lower educational achievement, lower economic productivity, higher health care costs and increased crime and policing costs.

I applaud the dietitians for their report and recommendations. It is time we joined other provinces in establishing a clear poverty-reduction strategy and, as a first step, let’s update our income-assistance rates to reflect the true cost of living.