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NEWS RELEASE · 5th March 2011
BC FIRST
INVOLVING ALL STAKEHOLDERS

BC First “People’s Social Policy” will bring together private and public funding to attack poverty and social breakdown at their roots.

BC First will launch a province wide consultation and overhaul of BC’s social assistance ministry to fundamentally alter the way government provides services to people in need says BC First spokesperson, Chris Delaney.

“The plan will bring together private and government funding in a number of innovative new programs that attack social breakdown at its roots in an effort to lift thousands of British Columbians out of poverty and dependency,” said Delaney.

“We are calling it the ‘People’s Social Policy’ because we believe that good social policy is critical in creating a foundation for success. We believe that the true measure of a society is how it treats the least amoung it, especially our children.”

“And children are the key to our approach. By
working with struggling parents to help their young children before bad influences like drugs, alcohol, school dropout, family breakdown and other problems begin, we can create the opportunities for a new generation to beat poverty and become contributing citizens who have strength, dignity and hope.”

Delaney says the People’s Social Policy is also designed to provide working parents with more options for raising their children. He says a BC First government will solicit the views of all stakeholders, including recipients of assistance, to craft a comprehensive program with lasting solutions.

“We know that social assistance is costly. We know that there is never enough. But we also know the cost of not fixing it is even greater,” said Delaney.

“Unlike some who believe simply cutting people’s benefits will force them to solve their own problems, or others who think just throwing more money at everything is the answer, our plan will bring together those who ‘have’ with those who need help to solve our problems as a community. This will enrich both contributor and receiver in a meaningful, practical way.”

Delaney says there is something seriously wrong with a system where jailed criminals are given housing, food, clothing, entertainment, health care, and even dental care and free schooling or job training, while people who fall through the cracks can barely survive.

“People in jail lose their freedom, but so do people in poverty. Even foster parents are paid more to take care of a child than real parents on welfare. The whole system is wrong, and needs to be overhauled,” said Delaney.
Delaney says the days of crafting a policy in isolation of those affected and then spending the rest of the time defending it are gone.

“BC First’s plan is only a beginning. The key initiatives we are putting forward are a starting point for a much wider discussion based on the core objective of assisting those closest to the problem to help solve it. Our plan has tremendous potential for success,” concluded Delaney.

BC FIRST SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT:

BC First believes in strong families, strong communities and a social conscience that supports those in need. We believe that good social policy provides a foundation for dignity and success, and that the true measure of a society is in how it treats the least amoung it, especially our children.

BC First believes a massive overhaul in the way we deliver social services is needed.
BC First commits to a province wide consultation process to develop an innovative, workable, affordable, and sustainable “People’s Social Policy” involving all the people and stakeholders in BC and which is geared to lifting people out of poverty instead of creating even greater dependence.

BC First proposes the following key initiatives as part of the People’s Social Policy to strengthen families and to help address poverty and social breakdown at its roots:
Implement a Parent Investor Partnership Society (PIPS) program to assist parents in government care with housing, guidance and training to create better opportunities for their children in an effort to break the cycles of poverty and dependency before they begin.

PIPS will bring together investors to purchase, own and maintain a series of group homes, each on a 20 year contract. Government will supply domestic and counseling staff to help struggling parents develop the domestic skills, parenting skills and work skills necessary to enhance their own opportunities and those of their children in an extended live/work program.

At the end of the program, the proceeds from the sale of the group home will be returned to investors’ tax free. This is a win-win program that will encourage private individuals or citizen investor groups to contribute to others in need. It will reward both donors and recipients by providing a profitable venture tied to a philanthropic need, providing parents and children with a brighter future and opportunities to succeed.

Develop a “From Assistance Straight To Work” (FAST Work) program with employers to encourage recipients of social assistance to transition to independence by allowing them to earn wages equivalent to 50% of their benefits without penalty. The program will enable employers to try out an employee with the intention of moving them into full time employment, and will allow those on assistance to transition to work without fear of loss of income.

Provide a dollar for dollar match funding program to approved “community based” programs that provide outreach to homeless and unemployed people to help lift them out of poverty. The plan will augment non-profit programs by communities, sectarian groups and/or benevolent associations and will be scaled to community demand on a 5 year term, with options for renewal based on performance.

Reinstate “case workers” assigned to recipients to forge relationships that provide a better understanding and evaluation of ongoing problems and solutions to help transition people to independence.

Expand “community based” drug and alcohol treatment facilities that encourage temperance, sobriety and rehabilitation. The program will also assist parents with dependent children in need of treatment.

Provide an income tax holiday for stay at home parents who return to work after a minimum 5 year absence to raise children. First child will equal a one year tax holiday; second child – two years; to a maximum of three years after three children or more. Employers will qualify for the
“Apprenticeship” refundable tax credit on business income taxes as an incentive to hire people re-entering the work force after a significant absence to raise children.