It’s Poverty Free BC Week.

Groups across the province are calling on the current and future governments to tackle poverty and inequality. BC is Canada’s only province without a poverty reduction plan.

Decisions made on the subject today directly affect the future as kids growing up in poverty are at a distinct disadvantage.

“It may affect them for the rest of their lives,” says Murray Krause, Executive Director of the Central Interior Native Health Society. “I think we’re just caught in a cycle here where we have to assist parents to get out of poverty so their children aren’t in poverty either.”

Krause says BC needs a plan to address the issues – nearly 600,000 British Columbians live in poverty.

“There’s been lots of discussion over the years about not charitizing poverty. It’s not about non-profits stepping up to assist people who are living in poverty. My goal definitely is never to have people live better in poverty – it’s about elimination of poverty.”

He has several specific suggestions for actions that would diminish the problem.

“Good jobs that pay well. Access to education. Affordable child care. Welfare and disability rates – which need to be improved – and affordable and supportive housing.”

According to the Poverty Free BC Action Coaltition, BC has the highest inequality in Canada with the wealthiest 20% owning 75% of the total wealth in BC while the poorest 20% are in debt.

500,000 BC workers earn poverty wages, less than $15 per hour