The number of people coming from other provinces and receiving welfare checks in B.C slightly increased last year from 3,100 in 2015 to over 3,300 in 2016.
B.C. is one of Canada’s wealthiest provinces but it has the second highest poverty rate in the country at 13.2 per cent.
BC NDP social development critic Michelle Mungall says the opposition has yet to release an official platform on welfare if they win the election in May.
“The reality is, is that people are fluctuating in and out of provinces all the time and sometimes more people come to B.C., and sometimes people leave B.C. Unfortunately this government doesn’t track very well the people who are leaving B.C., and going to other provinces. And we are also the only province that has no poverty reduction plan.”
If an NDP government were to take over and raise welfare rates, Mungall says it’s too early to say if it would be done through raising taxes or going into deficit.
“Poverty is a cost to B.C. tax payers. But that’s true, poverty is a cost because it cost more to leave people in poverty, than to address poverty.”
The BC Liberals left a welfare hike out of budget 2017.
The government says the majority of people who are on welfare from out of province come from Alberta.
New arrivals in B.C. can apply for assistance immediately, but they must meet the same eligibility requirements as all other clients.