Anti-Poverty Committee Editorial

Standing Up Against Injustice

The Anti-Poverty Committee is a group that was formed at the beginning of this year. We saw the need for a militant group that could effectively fight against the attacks on working class people being waged by the BC Liberals. Conditions for poor people in this province are getting worse and worse, and the number of people living in poverty is rising dramatically.

Low-wage workers are under attack. The Liberals brought in the $6 training wage late last year. It is designed to undermine wages across the board, and as time goes on, more and more employers will use the training wage against their workers. Marginalized workers, women, people of colour, youth: all are feeling the effects of this new minimum wage. The Anti-Poverty Committee has launched a Campaign to End the Training Wage to counter this attack, and will be fighting both the provincial government and businesses using the training wage until the legislation is abolished.

Unemployed workers are under attack. 29,000 people have been kicked off welfare in the last year, and a third of these people were kicked off in April, when the new 'Employment and Assistance Act' came into effect. This new act makes it easier to get kicked off welfare, and has lowered shelter rates, especially for single parents and their families. People are only eligible for welfare for 2 out of very 5 years, and will be kicked off for life if caught for 'fraud'. The act also introduced a 3-week waiting period for people in need of social assistance, where one is expected to apply for at least 63 jobs during this time. But the jobs are clearly not out there, as housing shelters are reporting record-breaking turnaways and demand for help from food banks has increased by 15%. The Anti-Poverty Committee demands an end to the 3-week waiting peri-od, and is fighting the attacks on unemployed workers with casework, mass mobilization, and direct action.

Women are under attack. The BC Liberals are cutting all funding to women’s centres by 2004. An estimated $500,000- 1,000,000 in provincial funding for sexual assault centres and community-based victim assistance programs is also being axed. The provincial government is planning to ‘replace’ these with a $400,000 single province-wide crisis line and police-based victim assistance programs. This is outrageous because a single line for assaulted women is completely inadequate for the province with the highest rate of sexual assaults in Canada. Moreover, it has been shown time and time again that most women do not report assaults to the police because of the incompetence and systemic discrimina-tion of the police. The Anti-Poverty Committee is fighting back, alongside our sisters, against these attacks on women.

All poor and working people are under attack. This is but a small sample of the many attacks being waged against working class people in this province: many more attacks are being waged against Indigenous people, students, seniors, immigrants, and other oppressed people. We are among the billions of people worldwide who are facing fiercer and fiercer attacks every day at the hands of capitalist restructuring. People from many different backgrounds, genders, and ages are under attack, so we must fight back as a diverse, mass-based movement. We must work together, not just to reverse the cuts brought in by Gordon Campbell, but to fight for an end to capitalist exploitation, and for our dignity, humanity, and freedom.

Mike Krebs