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NDP vows to fight child poverty with annual bonus

Adrian Dix gives a high-five following an evening event during the first day of the election campaign in Vancouver on April 16, 2013.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

NDP Leader Adrian Dix went into the south Vancouver riding of Moira Stilwell, the province's Social Development Minister, to suggest he could do better tackling childhood poverty than the governing Liberals with a proposed program that includes an annual bonus of up to $829 per child in low- and moderate-income families.

The B.C. family bonus program is part of Mr. Dix's continuing interest in tackling income inequality, and the latest of several major platform pieces unveiled so far in campaigning toward the May 14 election.

The $829 figure would apply to the lowest-income families, those earning an $25,000 or less annually, under a scale to be set up for the initiative. Overall, New Democrats said the program would eventually lift 8,404 children out of poverty.

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"When you address and focus resources on children living in poverty and lift them out, which this plan does demonstrably, that's going to have a positive impact," Mr. Dix told reporters.

The measure was among several Mr. Dix proposed, including a $20-per-month increase in income assistance and indexing to inflation as well as a doubling to $400 per month of the income-assistance earnings exemption, and new front-line staff at the Ministry of Children and Families.

Campaigning in northwest B.C. on Friday, Liberal Leader Christy Clark said child poverty isn't about poor children, but is the result of parental poverty.

"When parents aren't working and parents are living in poverty, children are too. The way to solve that is to grow your economy, put people to work in good, decent family-supporting jobs like the ones the liquefied natural gas industry is going to create for people. That's how we solve it."

The Liberal Leader was in the coastal community of Port Edward on Friday, promising northerners a new dividend program to ensure some of the benefits of a liquefied natural gas industry will stay in rural communities.

The pledge was met by cheers from supporters. But the yet-to-be-defined fund won't be flowing cash any time soon.

Ms. Clark later told reporters the money would come from her "prosperity fund," which is not projected to begin collecting LNG benefits until 2017.

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"We will talk to rural communities about where exactly we would settle on that money," she said. "This resource belongs to the people."

B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins campaigned in his Langley riding on Friday, meeting with the Langley Teachers' Association and attending an event with Delta North Conservative candidate Tinku Parmar.

The previous day, the party introduced nine new candidates, and now have 55 running in the province's 85 ridings. Mr. Cummins says the quality of candidates is incredible and he's excited to offer an alternative to what he calls the tax-and-spend Liberals and New Democrats.

Meanwhile, B.C.'s Green Party Leader spent the day on Vancouver Island talking about seniors issues, criticizing the way the file has been handled by previous governments and promoting the party's focus on preventive health care and encouraging the construction of senior‐oriented communities.

"In the last ten years we have cut back on things like home-care, which we know keeps people healthier and in their own homes longer," Jane Sterk said in a statement.

An Angus Reid poll released this week put the Greens in second place on Vancouver Island with 22 per cent, three points ahead of the Liberal Party, but still trailing the NDP by more than 20 points.

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With a report from Canadian Press

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About the Author
B.C. politics reporter

Based in the press gallery of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, Justine has followed the ups and downs of B.C. premiers since 1988. She has also worked as a business reporter and on Parliament Hill covering national politics. More

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