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The Best Place on Earth? Not for many B.C. families

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Until very recently, B.C. was The Best Place on Earth. Officially.

No one's quite sure who retired our title, but a report this month by the Business Council of B.C. offers up a few reasons why it was a good idea to ditch the slogan.

In it, Jock Finlayson, the council's executive vice-president for policy, has assembled material from Statistics Canada that paints a less-than-flattering picture of the province.

He notes, among other things:

  • British Columbia's is now third in the country for after-tax family income, at $67,200, compared to a national average of $63,800. It's behind resource-rich Alberta and Saskatchewan, now the two most affluent provinces, but ahead of the once industrially powerful Ontario.
  • Although the third-place position sounds good, it also turns out that familes in B.C. rely more on government transfers -- also known as social assistance -- as a source of income than in Saskatchewan and Alberta, although less than in other provinces than those two.
  • And when you drill down farther, you find that there are more B.C. families classified as “low-income” than in the rest of Canada (8.9 per cent in B.C. in 2009, versus a national average of 6.5 per cent). "The above average share of low income families in B.C. – which also translates into relatively high rates of reported child poverty – continues to be a cause for concern," Finlayson says.
  • Finally, the Vancouver region is quite “poor” compared to other urban regions in Canada, with a median total family income of just $67,550, below the average for all cities. In 2009, Greater Vancouver ranked 22nd out of 33 Canadian CMAs on the core indicator of economic well-being, the report says. That's in part because of the large number of immigrants, who tend to make lower incomes, it adds.

All in all, it's not a great place to find ourselves, given the economic storm clouds on the horizon. And the really challenging fallout they will undoubtedly pose for Canada, and B.C., in the next few years.

And it's really not a great place to find yourself leading if you're a premier who is betting the bank on convincing electors that she's putting Families First.

You can find Finlayson's report here.

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