Poverty is not cheap. It costs B.C. an estimated $9 billion each year.

It would take only two-thirds that amount to eliminate poverty by raising incomes, advocates say.

“Half of the poor in B.C. are either the working poor or the children of the working poor, so if we simply increase their wages, it would go a long way toward (eliminating poverty),” said Seth Klein, director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). “In a society as wealthy as ours in B.C., with an annual GDP of about $250 billion, by what logic can’t we close a poverty gap of $6 billion?”

Leaving families mired in poverty is expensive. It typically leads to higher health care costs, a greater burden on the criminal justice system, lost productivity among women who can’t work, and lower income tax revenue to governments. Those costs adds up to between $8.1 billion and $9.2 billion each year in B.C., according to a 2011 study by the CCPA.