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Better policies needed to tackle child poverty: expert

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A UBC policy expert says helping young families is one solution to getting rid of child poverty. A group of panelists including NDP candidate Bruce Ralston and Liberal candidate Ralph Sultan tackled the growing problem at a pre-election debate in Vancouver last night.

UBC professor Paul Kershaw who is spearheading the “Generation Squeeze” campaign says “wages are down but housing costs are up” and that’s part of the problem. He points to another factor; an imbalance in government spending.

“Let’s invest an extra thousand dollars per young person to move them from $12,000 to $13,000 for government spending per year, then leaving retirees about where they’re at. These platforms have done the opposite. They’ve added $1,000 per retiree and a fraction of that for younger people.”

“Why are the platforms of our major parties going into this election asking us to trade off the investment into my grandmother’s health against the well-being of her kids and grandchildren?” he questions.

Kershaw is hoping the next government will devote more money for generation X and Y instead of for seniors.

NDP candidate Bruce Ralston says his party’s platform contains elements that help low income families such as the $70 a month family bonus. “We will set out a plan that will make an important part of government planning going forward, a poverty reduction strategy with targets so that you can measure each year what your goals are and how well you are achieving or not.”

Liberal candidate Ralph Sultan says it’s too late to incorporate anything more to his platform, as he explains his party already spends roughly four billion dollars a year on the issue.

“That’s almost ten percent of the provincial government’s budget on programs directed at low income families with children in this province. This is not an insignificant effort cutting across the health ministry, the social ministry and the Attorney General’s ministry.”

He says the high number of single moms is also part of the poverty problem.

“It is merely a statistical fact that communities that have a high proportion of single moms have a high proportion of childhood poverty, that means single moms typically aren’t earning enough money…one approach is to have affordable daycare so they can go and get a job and leave their kids with somebody they trust.”

Both the Liberals and the NDP election platforms lack affordable daycare and school food programs, things which Kershaw finds disappointing. Experts say one in seven children in British Columbia are living in poverty and two thirds of which are situated in Metro Vancouver.