TogetherBC is the province’s first poverty reduction strategy. Six priority action areas are highlighted including more affordable housing; supporting families, children and youth; expanding access to education and training; more opportunities, more jobs; improving income supports; and investing in social inclusion.

Legislated targets are also part of the plan says Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall.

“The goals that we have put in place are in law so we have to meet them, that’s a strong accountability mechanism. We also have an advisory council who is keeping a watchful eye on our plan to make sure that we’re meeting it step by step.”

The legislated targets are to reduce the overall poverty rate by at least 25 per cent and child poverty by 50 per cent by 2024. Annual progress reports will be released by October 1 each year.

There’s a few initiatives already in place that MLA Mungall highlights.

“When we first became government we wanted to start tackling poverty right away. We knew we also needed a more comprehensive plan but we knew there was immediate attention. We begun doing that with our affordable housing strategy, raising income assistant rates, looking at a universal childcare program and starting to develop that and most recently in this budget we have a new child opportunity benefit.”

The Province also announced that twenty-four not-for-profit dental clinics will have their annual operating support doubled. The West Kootenay Community Teeth Clinic in Nelson is one of the recipients.

“Now that we’re expanding the funding for that we’ll be able to see more people getting help with their oral health,” says MLA Mungall. She adds one of the biggest struggles people living in poverty have around health care is dental care.

The announcement was made by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction for $3.6 million in funding over three years, including $2 million to upgrade dental equipment in the clinics.