B.C.'S 14.3 per Cent Child Poverty Rate Ranks 2nd Worst in Canada, Says Report

By Meissner, Dirk | The Canadian Press, November 21, 2012 | Go to article overview

B.C.'S 14.3 per Cent Child Poverty Rate Ranks 2nd Worst in Canada, Says Report


Meissner, Dirk, The Canadian Press


B.C. 2nd worst for child poverty, says report

--

VICTORIA - British Columbia must target child-poverty reduction with the same gusto it devotes to its jobs creation strategy, says a report released Tuesday that finds B.C. has the second highest child poverty rate in Canada.

First Call BC, a child and youth advocacy coalition of more than 90 provincial organizations and 25 communities, says the latest Statistics Canada numbers peg B.C.'s child-poverty rate at 14.3 per cent, with the Canadian average at 13.7 per cent.

The First Call report card numbers reflect before-tax incomes and apply to 2010. The report states that Manitoba has the highest child poverty rate in Canada.

Prior to this year, B.C. posted the highest child poverty rates in Canada for eight years in a row.

Dr. John Millar, spokesman for the Public Health Association of B.C. and a First Call member, said British Columbia's lack of a co-ordinated and dedicated strategy to reduce child poverty is a "disgrace."

The First Call report calls for a government poverty-reduction strategy with an overall goal of reducing child poverty in B.C. to seven per cent or lower by 2020.

Millar said Premier Christy Clark's Liberal government, which boasts that it has created the most jobs in Canada over the last year, appears to have convinced itself that merely creating jobs will help end the cycle of child poverty that has gripped B.C. for the past decade.

"It seems to be more of a lack of commitment and perhaps a neo-Liberal economic view that if you stimulate the economy, sooner or later the money will trickle down to the poor people, but we know that simply doesn't work and isn't working," said Millar.

"We need to have a more organized effort than simply relying on that," he said.

The most recent rankings do not include B.C.'s moves to increase the minimum wage to $10.25 per hour, offer earnings exemptions to welfare recipients and increase some disability payments.

British Columbia and Saskatchewan are the two provinces in Canada without designated child-poverty reduction strategies.

"The problem is that for over a decade now, B.C. has been behind the rest of Canada," Millar said. "We've had the highest both child, family and adult poverty rates in the country and despite some good efforts on the part of the government, most recently raising the minimum wage ... we still are right at the bottom of the heap."

Millar said B.C. lacks a concerted, organized and responsible child-poverty fighting strategy that seeks to move the province to the top spot in Canada.

Millar said First Call wants Premier Christy Clark to appoint a minister responsible for fighting child poverty.

The First Call report stated the number of poor children in 2010 was 119,000, about one of every seven B.C. children. It stated about two-thirds -- or 80,000 -- of these children lived in Metro Vancouver.

The report stated B.C. also had the highest income gaps between rich and poor families.

Millar said poverty robs children of their potential and increases health problems. He said in a statement growing income gaps are a "recipe for a very sick society."

Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux defended B. …

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