BC Budget 2021 tinkers at the margins of real systemic change and fails to tackle the she-cession leaving BC women behind
SMA for Gender & Economic Justice
April 20th, 2021, Coast Salish Territories, (Vancouver, BC). BC’s Budget 2021 lacks a gender equality lens to tackle the ‘she-cession’ and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women. British Columbia is not immune to the global roll-back of gender equality due to the pandemic. Gender based domestic violence is skyrocketing and record numbers of women are exiting the labour market and losing work, many of them disproportionately racialized and the lowest-waged women workers. BC’s Budget 2021 misses an opportunity to take decisive action now to hold ground and gain ground to tackle gender equality in BC.
When it comes to childcare, transit, and housing, the province continues to tinker at the margins of the bold progressive policy and public infrastructure we need to truly build an equitable BC for all. Increasing ECE wages and the number of $10-a-day prototype spaces are necessary gains, however the government must go past the current piecemeal, cumbersome system of subsidy applications and commit to building a truly universally accessible child care system for all. A focus on youth employment programs is welcome, however, a crucial opportunity to tackle the she-cession with targeted retraining and supportive back-to work programs for women is needed. Such initiatives must target and provide increased support for lone-mothers who are working less than other women at this time due to the burden of domestic labour during the pandemic.
SMA for Gender and Economic Justice applauds government’s commitment to the #AllOnBoard campaign and to providing free transit for all children 0-12 in the province. While this new initiative is a promising new foundation for affordable and accessible transit in BC, free transit for youth 0-12 must be positioned as a first step towards universally accessible fully publicly provided transit for all BC residents, regardless of their immigration and residency status. Omitting youth 12-18 leaves many at-risk and low-income youth experiencing mobility poverty, and all other high school aged youth, behind. We advocate for the government to immediately expand the initiative to include youth up to age 18 prior to roll-out of the program in fall 2021.
Current government has failed to heed the long-time advocacy of front-line feminist and other organizations and restore funding to family law legal aid, gutted in 2002 by a previous government. SMA continues to advocate for the expansion of the availability of family law legal aid to all low-income parents, increase the number of hours available, and address the too-low income requirement for eligibility.
Raising the income and disability assistance rates $175 per recipient is a long-overdue and welcome raise that will benefit many lone-mother led families. However, leaving the rates below the ‘poverty line’ continues to legislate poverty and food insecurity for those most in need. BC must also more fulsomely address the 'welfare wall' that traps people on assistance. BC Budget 2021 misses an opportunity to introduce scheduled increases to the assistance rates up to the Market Basket Measure (MBM) poverty line. SMA urges the government to immediately implement scheduled raises over the next three years to chart a confirmed path above the poverty line for all those accessing our social safety net in BC.
-End of statement-
For media inquiries:
Viveca Ellis, Provincial Organizer
Cell: 604-366-1008 Email: [email protected]