Maple Ridge visit highlights need to take real action on poverty, says Mungall

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Local service organizations in Maple Ridge are struggling to keep up with demand for food and other basics for families living in poverty, says the New Democrat opposition social development critic Michelle Mungall.

“The Friends in Need food bank serves more than 2500 people a month, and a third of them are children. They are having trouble keeping up with demand for food in the community. That’s evidence that a lot of families in Maple Ridge are struggling,” said Mungall.

Mungall was in Maple Ridge on Friday visiting the Friends in Need food bank and Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services.

“It’s hard to believe local MLA Marc Dalton spoke out in the legislature against a strategy to reduce child poverty in B.C. when his local food bank struggles to keep up with demand.”

During the spring legislative session Dalton responded to a motion calling for the legislature to examine the work done in other jurisdictions to reduce poverty by suggesting it simply wasn’t a problem because he had not “met children starving in British Columbia.” He also denied youth homelessness exists, saying “I haven’t seen children, as I’ve seen in other places, living on the streets.”

“There are children who are hungry in British Columbia. Had Mr. Dalton listened to advocates in his own community he’d know that,” said Mungall.

One way the government could reduce child poverty is to end the clawback of child support payments for children whose parents receive government income supports. The B.C. Liberal government takes $17 million each year from B.C.’s poorest kids. That’s money parents say would help feed their children.

After Mungall’s numerous calls on the government to end the clawback of child support, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Liberal Constituency Association put forward a resolution to end the clawback at the recent Liberal party convention. But the resolution never went forward for discussion.

“Reducing child poverty is clearly an issue that people of all political stripes in Maple Ridge care about, and they want to see action from government,” said Mungall. “With the highest child poverty in Canada for over a decade, that action can start by ending the clawback of child support payments to some of our province’s poorest kids.”