The Province is investing $24 million to increase access for low-income families to fresh food, dental and hearing care for children, and to support community initiatives to reduce poverty.
The funding includes $10 million to Food Banks BC to help the organization’s 100 food banks throughout the province receive, store and distribute fresh, healthy food to those in need.
Food Banks BC will invest $6.5 million for transporting nutritious food from farms, grocery stores and restaurants and $3.5 million for refrigeration to store and distribute the food. This funding builds on the Provincial Farmers’ Food Donation Tax Credit announced in 2016.
This tax credit was designed to connect B.C. families needing food supports with more healthy fresh food by encouraging food producers and farmers to donate surplus agricultural products – such as fresh vegetables, meat, grain and dairy – to local foodbanks and charities. The $10-million investment will mean that food banks throughout B.C. will now have the proper capacity to receive these fresh products and deliver them to families.
The Province is also increasing funding by $6 million annually for the BC Healthy Kids Program to include coverage for hearing aids and improve rates for dental services for children. Almost $23 million a year is currently invested in the program which provides dental care and prescription eyewear to children living in low-income families. About 166,000 low and moderate-income families are eligible for Healthy Kids supports. The changes will come into effect in September 2017.
An additional $1 million in one-time funding will go to the BC Dental Association (BCDA) to further support regular dental care for children from low-income families. The funds will help cover operating and capital costs – such as replacement equipment – at 20 not-for-profit community dental clinics throughout the province that provide dental treatment at reduced cost to low-income families.
To help communities address the root causes of poverty at the local level, government is investing $7 million for a new Community Poverty Reduction Fund that will support community-driven programs tailored to the unique circumstances and needs of each region. This fund responds to feedback the Province has received from communities participating in the Community Poverty Reduction Strategies Initiative and other organizations involved with poverty reduction.
The fund will be administered by the Vancouver Foundation and support initiatives such as developing local strategies to reduce poverty, growing local partnerships and launching poverty reduction pilot projects that are either innovative or proving successful in other jurisdictions.
Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –
“Providing these funds across multiple organizations is part of our ongoing commitment to help support low-income B.C. families to secure a brighter future for them and their children.
“No government wants to see any child living in poverty. While these funds are not a long-term solution to poverty they will provide immediate benefits to vulnerable British Columbians throughout the province.”
Laura Lansink, executive director, Food Banks BC –
“This funding will change how we do business and revolutionize the way that we operate. I am thrilled that we finally have the means to build and increase the refrigerated storage capacity for B.C.’s food bank network. It means that instead of the typical canned or non-perishable foods that make up most of what is received from a food bank, we will now have the ability to include fresh, healthy perishable donated foods like milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, seafood and meats – all the types of food that each of us want for our own families.”
Dr. Robert Staschuk, president, BC Dental Association –
“We are very grateful to the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation for collaborating with the BCDA and for providing much-needed funding that will assist British Columbians who have difficulty accessing dental care. The new fees for low-income children will help approximately 166,000 kids. The funds for the Save a Smile program will support children in need of urgent dental care. And B.C.’s 20 not-for-profit dental clinics, which accepted more than 57,000 patient visits last year, will get funding for operating and equipment costs.”
Kevin McCort, president and CEO, Vancouver Foundation –
“Vancouver Foundation funds organizations that bring forward innovative solutions that address community needs and support the growth of healthy, vibrant and liveable communities throughout B.C. The Community Poverty Reduction Fund will generate new opportunities to collaborate and address the root causes of poverty in our communities.”
- It is estimated that every year across Canada, $31 billion worth of quality, fresh, usable food is needlessly wasted.
- Adding refrigeration capacity for food banks in B.C. means vulnerable families have more consistent access to a greater variety of nutritious foods.
- The B.C. Farmers' Food Donation Tax Credit is a non-refundable income tax credit to encourage farmers and farming corporations to donate certain agricultural products that they produce in B.C. to registered charities, such as food banks or school meal programs.
- The BC Healthy Kids Program offers coverage to children from low-income families as well as those from families receiving income or disability assistance. Eligible children have access to $1,400 of basic dental services every two years. In 2015-16 a total of 68,166 children accessed the program.
- The BC Dental Association is a member advocacy organization that works to promote good dental health for British Columbians.
- The BCDA Save a Smile program has supported the urgent dental care needs of more than 2,000 children from 0-18 years of age from low-income families. The program is run in partnership with public-health dental staff who screen patients for clinical and financial eligibility, and the UBC Faculty of Dentistry.
- Through an annual workshop and ongoing advocacy, the BCDA supports B.C.’s 20 not-for-profit dental clinics, which provide reduced-cost treatment for eligible patients. These clinics served more than 57,000 patients in 2016.
- The Community Poverty Reduction Strategies Initiative, which launched in 2012, encourages collaboration between local governments, community stakeholders, the private sector and other ministries to support or develop community poverty-reduction strategies or plans. This includes working on personalized plans with families to help move them out of poverty.
- Vancouver Foundation brings together community assets to address current and emerging community needs. Working collaboratively with citizens, organizations and governments to address the root causes of social issues, Canada’s largest community foundation has distributed more than $1 billion to thousands of community projects and programs since it was founded in 1943.
- B.C. is moving people out of low income at a rate that is 60% faster than the national average, based on numbers from 2006 to 2014, declining by 27% and accounting for over one-quarter of the total national reduction. That’s approximately 162,000 people lifted out of poverty.
- Over the same period, the number of children living in poverty in B.C. has fallen by 50% – the equivalent of approximately 79,000 fewer children living in poverty.
- British Columbia has some of the most comprehensive supports for low-income individuals and their families in Canada, including subsidized housing, child-care subsidies, dental and optical care for children, free MSP, free Pharmacare, child and seniors benefits, and employment services through the Employment Program of BC.
Food Banks BC: www.foodbanksbc.com
B.C. Farmers’ Food Donation Tax Credit: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/taxes/income-taxes/personal/credits/farmers-food-donation
BC Healthy Kids Program: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=931F67BD933942408A242DDB9F1AE5F4
Find a not-for-profit dental clinic: www.bcdental.org/yourdentalhealth/dentalclinics.aspx
Vancouver Foundation: www.vancouverfoundation.ca
Check out the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s 2015 two-year progress update on their Community and Poverty Reduction Strategies Initiative: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/family-and-social-supports/services-supports-for-parents-with-young-children/reporting-monitoring/01-bc-changing-families/t15-0144_community_poverty_reduction_strategies_2015.pdf
Government supports for British Columbians with low income: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/support-for-low-income-british-columbians
Sean LeslieMedia Relations
Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation