New Democrats and Liberals go toe to toe
Greens best hope is for the Single Transferable Vote.

by  Jim Lipkovits

ElectionThis time around BC voters should frame the upcoming the election as the battle between local neighbourhood issues versus big-bucks backroom corruption.

In the final few days of the election Carol James and the NDP are standing up for local groups and action throughout the province. Gordon Campbell’s Liberals are hiding behind an immense media fog  with  little attention being paid to the issues affecting people on the ground in communities across BC.

Wherever there is a local issue raising its electoral head, there you will find an NDP candidate, drawing heavily on  grass-roots organization in every town and city to rally supporters to the cause.  Opposing them is an entrenched two-term and seemingly bullet-proof Liberal government. 

It is up to the New Democrats to put the lie to the well-financed and well oiled Liberal media campaign, a campaign which draws on a never ending  wellspring of half-truths, distorted truth, gossip, lies, and damn statistics. Given the recent StatsCan economic figures that shouldn’t be too hard.  According to Statistics Canada the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of BC  declined by 0.3%, the first drop for 27 years. (since 1982)  This leaves no room for the Liberals to move and for NDP to seize the opportunity to turn the state of the economy against the incumbent government.


Homeless disappearing

Province's New Counting Makes Homeless Disappear, Say Critics
Numbers just for internal use says ministry.

by Tom Sandborn

HomelessThe ministry responsible for helping the homeless in B.C. has introduced new rules for deciding whether a welfare recipient is homeless. The new method will almost certainly reduce the number of people classified as homeless, and some critics predict the drop will be dramatic. The new criteria, introduced in February by the Ministry of Housing and Social Programs, use a different definition of homelessness than does the Metro Vancouver/GVRD "Still on Our Streets" report, most recently conducted last spring.

A ministry representative has confirmed that the new policy is in effect. A document available on the ministry's website is designed to help front line staff use the new criteria to classify aid applicants. 

The Homeless Indicator document says the new criteria are designed to "better identify and track homeless clients." directing front line workers to classify aid applicants as homeless only when they have been living in public spaces -- on the streets, for example, or in abandoned buildings or in tent cities -- for more than 30 days or if they were brought into the system by a B.C. Housing outreach worker.


Most BC families are vulnerable as we head into a recession

by Iglika Ivanova

Many people think that our province's economic woes are just beginning. But in fact, even before the current recession started, most BC families were falling behind. 

A new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) reveals that not only are the poorest families in BC worse off than ever before, but the middle class is losing ground as well, and much more so than in the rest of Canada. 

Using data provided by Statistics Canada, the CCPA tracked the earnings and after-tax incomes of BC families with children over the past 30 years. We found that fully 60% of BC families are earning less than their parents' generation in the late 1970s. Only the wealthiest are making more. In fact, earnings have grown so much for the top 10% of families that they now take home a bigger share of the earnings pie than the entire bottom half of families. 

BC's tax and transfer system has helped to make up for some of the earnings losses for the poorest 10 per cent of families, but it hasn't done much for the rest of the bottom half of families. So 60% of families not only have lower earnings than the last generation, but their after-tax incomes are lower as well. This is something unique to BC - other provinces have done a better job of addressing inequality in the labour market using government transfers and taxes. 


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