The West Coast’s six Mid Island-Pacific Rim candidates were tasked to address the issue of child poverty at the public meeting in Ucluelet last week.
According to a regional Vital Signs report released in 2016, the West Coast has one of the highest child poverty rates in the province.
The report suggests 67 per cent of residents earn less than the local living wage, which is considered $19.27 per hour.
Scott Fraser, NDP MLA running for re-election and his fourth term, said the BC NDP have created a well-studied plan to reduce poverty.
“We will be raising social assistance rates for the first time in a long time by $100 a month,” he said.
“Also people with disabilities, we’ll be raising that by $100.”
“And if you recall last year the Premier clawed back the bus passes for people with disabilities, which was, I mean, I had people with developmental disabilities coming into my office going what are we going to do? So we are going to give it back to them of course,” he said.
BC Conservative candidate Julian Fell said his party would take a different approach.
“You could get the same effect by reducing costs. Instead of giving everybody $100 extra, what if everybody paid $100 less rent or $100 less for their living? Instead of just throwing money at something let’s see how we can subtract expense from it,” Fells said.
BC Liberal candidate Darren DeLuca said the best cure for poverty is a job.
“That’s what we do. We created 220,000 jobs since 2011,” he said.
“In a lot of ways, it’s about representation. If you’re looking to have this economy and this region improve, I think you will have to elect a candidate that’s a doer. And that’s what I am. I don’t have all the flowery rhetoric and I can’t quote back fifteen years, but I’m very much a doer. That’s why I put my name forward,” DeLuca said.
BC Green candidate Alicia La Rue said she agreed with both Fraser and DeLuca.
“Jobs are a big thing to us well. The BC Green Party is focusing on bringing in a new economy. Yes, resource based economy is huge here in B.C.,” she said.
“But, you know, so is tourism and so is tech industry. Tech industry will actual pay more than resource based industry. So we are definitely focused on that as well as bringing in more renewable technologies and businesses.
The Ucluelet all-candidates meeting was moderated by Jeanne Keith-Ferris and hosted by the Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce.