Thinking Beyond the BC Budget

Published: March 20, 2024

The 2024 BC Budget was delivered on February 22, 2024, promising action for a stronger British Columbia. Like many non-profits in the community social services sector, Family Services of Greater Vancouver was eager to see what the underlying message coming from government would be: a glimpse into the funding streams that could transform the lives of our clients. FSGV is a large non-profit with a budget nearing $30 million, delivering targeted supports for families in crisis, youth experiencing homelessness, survivors of violence, and people in poverty. Yet Budget 2024 was not targeted to those we serve. 

Budgets are designed for the masses; FSGV is narrow

Like every budget, this one had several great funding announcements that will help our clients and many other British Columbians. Increases to the BC Family Benefit, a break on electricity bills, climate tax credits, and a renter’s rebate are all a welcome reprieve for families who are stretched by the cost of living. Some of these are good policy: low-barrier help for many; while others are popular but short-term: one-time rebates.

The province is also taking more steps to ensure British Columbians can find a home. While current and prospective homeowners get their share of targeted measures, clients at FSGV are more likely renters. The province has already been busy with housing announcements since reinstating the Ministry of Housing, and Budget 2024 expands on them: targeting transit hubs and government and non-profit land for development, addressing the short-term rental market, and protecting renters with capped rent increases.

The road to housing security for all is long

In serving more than 11,000 people every year through crisis support, counselling, and poverty reduction, housing is the number one topic that clients need across all programs. Families must meet government requirements for housing to be reunited; youth accessing Directions are frequently unable to find safe and affordable options to rent; survivors of violence are looking for somewhere safe to rebuild; and people accessing Financial Empowerment are seeking benefits that give them a helping hand to secure reliable income and stable housing.

A 2023 report published by CMHC projected a need of 2.64 million housing units in BC in 2030. And this is simply the big picture. At FSGV, we see the barriers our clients face to accessing affordable housing – not just shelter spaces or temporary housing but supportive and long-term housing that allows people to thrive.

We’re heartened to see policies aimed at increasing density and fast-tracking development. We’ll be focused on advocating that our clients’ unique housing needs are met. 

Budgets are just the beginning

The Budget is merely a roadmap, with many projects and announcements still coming. In just the last month, the province has announced:

  • a minimum wage increase to $17.40/hour in June, the highest in Canada;
  • 10 new Foundry centres throughout the province;
  • the launch of HealthIM in more communities to improve mental health and addiction emergency response;
  • funding to help families with school expenses;
  • and new housing and treatment supports for unhoused youth in Vancouver

Bill 7 also recently received royal assent. The bill sets new targets to reduce overall poverty and child poverty and introduces a new target to reduce seniors’ poverty. It will also update two laws relating to disability assistance. It’s welcome but we know there must be (and is) more to come.

Role to play for municipalities and the federal government

Solutions to society’s biggest issues are the responsibility of all levels of government. Additionally, the issues that FSGV is most involved in (youth homelessness, poverty reduction, and supports for survivors of violence) are ones that cross multiple ministries.

We believe in a model of cooperation between non-profits, ministries, and governments to ensure that funding and supports for supportive housing, mental health and addictions, survivors of violence, and people in poverty are available.

What we’re looking forward to in 2024

FSGV advocates with every level of government. We know that based on our insights and data, we can provide solutions for government and for people. This year, we see the BC Budget and think there’s space to advocate, to share our goals and ideas for people. We think there is space to get specific for the people we serve.

As we head into the BC election this fall, we will be advocating for financial empowerment as a long-term poverty reduction strategy, funding to reduce waitlists for trauma counselling across the province, supports for youth experiencing homelessness, and more. We’ll also be advocating for the people who work in the community social services sector – to expand education and training, improve wages, and recognize the impact of our work. 


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