Premier Gordon Campbell's policies made life tougher for single moms
Media outlets across the province have faithfully reported Premier Gordon Campbell's comments about how hurt he felt after being the target of personal attacks.
On November 4, he emphasized that we should discuss issues without personalizing things.
He has a point. However, wouldn't it be nice if journalists focused just as much attention on the people that the premier has hurt over the years with his policies?
Campbell was the son of a single mother, who had a tough time in her life. So what did he do as premier? He introduced policies to make things far more difficult for many single moms across the province.
He started by eliminating the NDP's promised child-care program. The premier also kept his mouth shut when the federal Conservatives eliminated the federal Liberal child-care program.
That's not all. After taking power in 2001, the Campbell government clawed back family-maintenance payments from welfare cheques on a dollar-by-dollar basis, eliminating a $100 monthly exemption.
The premier also took away the $200 earnings exemption for welfare recipients. This meant that single mothers on social assistance would have their cheques deducted dollar-for-dollar for every penny they earned as income.
According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, B.C. was the only jurisdiction in North America that prevented social-assistance recipients from increasing their income through part-time work.
The Campbell government also put single parents in the "expected to work" category when their kids turned three. This resulted in far lower benefits.
Single parents were expected to work, even if there wasn't any child care available.
Previously, single parents weren't categorized this way until their youngest child turned seven and was attending school.
Is it any wonder that B.C. always leads the country in child poverty?
In his second term, Campbell alleviated some of the worst effects of these policies by introducing a rent-supplement program for parents who don't live in subsidized housing. He also cut personal income taxes for the working poor and boosted welfare rates.
These measures contributed to B.C. improving its child-poverty rate from 13.7 percent in 2007 to 10.4 percent in 2008.
But the province is still at the back of the pack, according to the latest national statistics. This has been the case for seven consecutive years.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.