We have a plan to create jobs, grow the economy and reduce poverty by supporting Low Income Families in Transition (LIFT) to give people what they need to live the lives they want. We know the best social program is a well-paying job that provides people with the ability to support the ones they love while securing a better future for their family – and this underscores why our government has placed such a strong emphasis on the BC Jobs Plan. But equally important is lifting up those who need it most by both removing barriers to employment, and ensuring those who face challenges that may prevent them from working have access to services and programs that support them and their families.
The BC Jobs Plan is our long-term vision for economic success and job creation. In the five years since being established, more than 220,000 jobs have been created – 96% of which are full time – and B.C. now leads the country in employment growth. Our province has moved from ninth place to first place in job creation, and we’ve moved from the fourth-lowest unemployment rate to the lowest.
We want to ensure as many people as possible are able to take advantage of the opportunities to share in the growing economy. That is why through our Low-Income Families in Transition strategy we have created initiatives that remove barriers so more and more people can be part of our province’s economy. As an example, the innovative Single Parent Employment Initiative provides single parents on income or disability assistance with up to 12 months of funded training or paid work experience. The program pays the full costs of child care and transportation during training and for up to a year after they enter the work force. As of March 21, more than 4,600 single parents are now enrolled in this program and over 950 have moved off of income assistance and into the workforce.
For British Columbians who need extra supports, we have an ever-expanding network of services and programs, a case-in-point being B.C.’s housing strategy – the most progressive in Canadian history. Our $920-million investment will support the creation of more than 5,300 affordable housing units. Today, more than 104,000 British Columbians benefit from a diverse range of programs and services which involve supportive housing, low income housing, and rent assistance. This is on top of the almost $5 billion our government has invested since 2013 in low-income housing.
We are also reducing Medical Service Plan premiums by 50% beginning January 2018 for households with an annual net income of up to $120,000. More than two million British Columbians – including 70,000 single parent families – already pay no premiums, and following this change a further two million will see a 50% reduction in their premiums.
Through a host of targeted investments and initiatives aimed at supporting low-income families in transition, we continue to make significant progress in reducing poverty in B.C. While this is an important matter that requires ongoing attention, it’s also important to recognize that between 2011 – when the Jobs Plan was established – and 2014, there were 77,000 fewer British Columbians living below the low-income line. The number of children living in low income in our province fell by 50% between 2006 and 2014 – that’s approximately 79,000 fewer children living in low income. No other province has matched B.C.’s declining child poverty numbers.
Moving forward, we will continue to focus our efforts on growing the economy, creating jobs and investing in targeted supports to the individuals and families that need them.
To learn more about the supports our government is providing for low-income families in transition visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/organizational-structure/ministries-organizations/social-development-social-innovation/lift-strategy.pdf