NANAIMO – The Province is investing $24 million to increase low-income families access to fresh food, dental, hearing carefor children, and to reduce poverty in communities.
$10 M for food banks
The funding includes $10 million to Food Banks BC to help the organization’s 100 food banks throughout the provincereceive, 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 $3.5million for refrigeration to store and distribute the food. The $10-million investment will mean that food banks throughoutB.C. will now have the proper capacity to receive these fresh products and deliver them to families.
More fresh food
“This funding will change how we do business and revolutionize the way that we operate. I am thrilled that we finally havethe 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 foodbank, we will now have the ability to include fresh, healthy perishable donated foods like milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, freshand frozen fruits and vegetables, seafood and meats – all the types of food that each of us want for our own families” saidLaura Lansink, executive director, Food Banks BC.
Fridges reduce waste
The tax credit was designed to connect B.C. families needing food supports with more healthy fresh food by encouragingfood producers and farmers to donate surplus agricultural products – such as fresh vegetables, meat, grain and dairy – tolocal foodbanks and charities.
But without proper cold storage it is estimated that every year across Canada, $31 billion worth of quality, fresh, usablefood is needlessly wasted. Adding refrigeration capacity for food banks in B.C. means vulnerable families have moreconsistent access to a greater variety of nutritious foods.
$10 M for tax credit
The $10 Million funding for BC Food Banks builds on the Provincial Farmers’ Food Donation Tax Credit announced in 2016.
The B.C. Farmers’ Food Donation Tax Credit is a non-refundable income tax credit to encourage farmers and farmingcorporations to donate certain agricultural products that they produce in B.C. to registered charities, such as food banks orschool meal programs.
$1 M for dental
An additional $1 million in one-time funding will go to the BC Dental Association (BCDA) to further support regular dentalcare for children from low-income families.
The funds will help cover operating and capital costs – such as replacement equipment – at 20 not-for-profit communitydental clinics throughout the province that provide dental treatment at reduced cost to low-income families.
The BC DentalAssociation is a member advocacy organization that works to promote good dental health for British Columbians.
$6 M for healthy kids
The Province is also increasing funding by $6 million annually for the BC Healthy Kids Program to include coverage forhearing 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 tochildren living in low-income families.
About 166,000 low and moderate-income families are eligible for Healthy Kidssupports. The changes will come into effect in September 2017.
Basic dental sevices is one part of the BC Healthy Kids Program which offers coverage to children from low-income familiesand 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 childrenaccessed the program.
$7 M for poverty reduction
$7 million is being invested in a new Community Poverty Reduction Fund that will support community-driven programstailored to the unique circumstances and needs of each region.
This fund hopes to address the root causes of poverty at the local level by taking into consideration feedback the Provincehas received from communities and organizations already involved with poverty reduction.
Prince George, was one of the communities to pilot this Poverty Reduction program.
These communities were recommendedby the UBCM to reflect a mix of metro, urban, rural and remote communities across B.C.
“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” said Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development andSocial Innovation. she acknowledged that these funds are not a long-term solution to poverty but they will provideimmediate benefits to vulnerable British Columbians throughout the province.
BC is a leader
British Columbia is moving people out of low income at a rate that is 60% faster than the national average, based onnumbers from 2006 to 2014, declining by 27% and accounting for over one-quarter of the total national reduction.
That’sapproximately 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, childand seniors benefits, and employment services through the Employment Program of BC.
– files from Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation