Surrey has been identified as one of seven communities to participate in a pilot project where poverty reduction strategies will target the unique needs of families struggling to get out of poverty.
Surrey, along with Prince George, Port Hardy, Cranbrook, New Westminster, Stewart and Kamloops has been identified as the first to pilot community poverty-reduction strategies. These communities were recommended by the UBCM to reflect a mix of metro, urban, rural and remote communities across B.C.
"Communities are different. Families are different. That is the essence of this project that promotes collaboration and sharing new, innovative ideas that recognize each community and each family has distinctive needs and resources," said Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development. "The goal is to provide low-income families with tailor-made springboards out of poverty by focusing on their strengths - not just their needs."
The ministry is appointing seven community poverty strategy consultants to forge partnerships with local governments, community organizations and local businesses. The consultants will co-ordinate and lead community teams in developing action plans that address the needs of families living in poverty. Action plans with measurable targets will be developed over the summer with implementation scheduled for September 2012.
"By focusing on addressing the particular needs of Surrey families living in poverty, this project will ensure we develop targeted action plans to help those less fortunate," said Surrey-Panorama MLA Stephanie Cadieux.
The strategies will optimize existing resources and will initially focus on families with children living in poverty. They will be guided by feedback from town hall meetings, community discussions and conversations with low-income families and individuals vulnerable to poverty. Key to developing successful strategies is recognition that each community has distinctive needs and resources.
"Surrey is a growing community and by enhancing existing resources and tailoring innovative services to our community, this project will provide improved support to families in need," said Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Kevin Falcon.
"Every community has different challenges for families living in poverty," said Surrey-Tynehead MLA Dave S. Hayer. "This project will optimize existing resources to assist low-income families in Surrey escape poverty."
Community teams will take responsibility for the day-to-day implementation of the project. Key to these strategies is working directly with families to understand their individual needs, connect them with supports and to develop personalized paths out of poverty designed by families themselves.
"By customizing strategies to draw upon the assets in each community, this initiative will provide better support to families in need," said UBCM President Heath Slee. "UBCM has been pleased to work closely with province on this project and we look forward to contributing more as part of the Provincial Steering Committee."
The Province will appoint a provincial steering committee, including representatives from provincial cabinet, the UBCM, the voluntary sector and the business community to guide the project.
"Surrey is pleased to partner in this new pilot project which will take a holistic and integrated approach to addressing the needs of low-income families, and will complement the efforts already being made in Surrey," said Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts. "We need to develop innovative strategies around income, housing, transportation and supports to help lift families and children out of poverty."
Once the project has been implemented in the first seven communities, it will be evaluated and expanded to include 20 more communities each year for the next two years. Future strategies will be based on the successes of participating pilot communities and innovative approaches used successfully in other jurisdictions.
For more information on supports for vulnerable families please visit http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/ministries/children-and-family-development/factsheets/reducing-poverty-for-low-income-families.html
Senior Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Children and Family Development
UBCM Healthy Communities Committee
604 270-8226 ext. 110