Access to affordable basic education for adults is an important anti-poverty strategy for families. The BC Government acknowledged this in 2007 when it announced the Education Guarantee. The restoration of the Education Guarantee, which the provincial government cancelled in 2014, is therefore a recommendation in First Call’s 2015 Child Poverty Report Card:
The provincial government should immediately restore the Education Guarantee to reinstate tuition-free adult basic education, to enable adults to upgrade secondary courses needed for entry to post-secondary programs, and for adults needing to learn English as an additional language (p. 50).
Other recommendations in the report concerning access to education and training for adults include:
- #4: The provincial government should immediately end the clawback of federal maternity and parental leave benefits from those on income and disability assistance and allow all those on income and disability assistance to retain benefits while attending a post-secondary institution;
- #12: The federal and provincial governments should intensify their efforts to help immigrants and refugees adjust to life in Canada by enhancing employment assistance, removing long-standing barriers to qualification for professionals trained abroad, making more language training available, and improving employment standards and human rights protections and enforcement.
- #14: Federal and provincial government support for access to post-secondary education should be increased both to remove financial barriers for low-income students and to lower student debt levels. Specific policy options include tuition fee reductions, providing lower-income students with grants instead of loans and making student loans interest free.
The new Federal Government has announced plans to work with provinces to reduce poverty. As Federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos’ mandate letter asks him to:
“Lead the development of a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy that would set targets to reduce poverty and measure and publicly report on our progress, in collaboration with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. Our strategy will align with and support existing provincial and municipal poverty reduction strategies”.
BC will need to develop an anti-poverty strategy very soon to align with the Federal Government’s plans; the First Call recommendations seem like a very good place to start.