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October 28, 2017 1:24 am

Trustee ‘Sickened’ by Prince George’s Child Poverty Rate

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 @ 3:50 AM

Prince George, B.C. – The Prince George School Board responded with dismay to Tuesday’s child poverty report released by the BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition.

Based on 2013 data (the most recent data available) it showed 20.4% of BC children live in poverty, 21% in Prince George.

It also found more than half (50.3%) of all children living in lone-parent families were living in poverty in 2013, compared to 13% for children in couple families.

Trustee Tim Bennett

Trustee Tim Bennett

In response to the findings, the board passed a motion, tabled by Trustee Tim Bennett.

It asked :”That the board write a letter to Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation calling on government to allocate resources to develop and implement a provincial strategy for reducing child and family poverty in BC.”

Afterwards, Bennett called the report both “shocking and sickening.”

He also said it would be helpful to bring back the poverty reduction pilot, shelved the beginning of this year by the provincial government.

“I think we’re in a position where we need to work together and that committee was quite effective. There was representatives from government, social service agencies, from the school district,” said Bennett.

“We were getting together on a regular basis to talk about what we can do in Prince George to support those living in poverty. We’re not saying we’re going to eliminate poverty but it’s how do you reduce it and how do you ensure everyone has the tools they need to live.”


Well Tim, I am sickened as well. Sickened by people that feel tattoo’s and cigarettes are more important than their children.

Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 @ 6:17 AM by Digitus Impudicus with a score of -4

Well Tim, I am sickened as well. Sickened by people that feel tattoo’s and cigarettes are more important than their children.


Wait. You’re asking people to take personal responsibility for their choices? In this age of entitlement? Ain’t going to happen.

But he isn’t sickened his Liberal government wants to bring in 25k Syrians to top off that poverty level? Ah the hypocrisy in these people, just amazing.

The article is about children living in poverty…not tattoos and refugees…it takes a pretty callus person to deflect away from dealing with this issue. With attitudes like that it’s no surprise we have innocent children living under these conditions.

PG101 do you really think someone who is worried about children under the poverty level would be against helping out others ? I personally think he would be for it… but since the question was not asked.. we are both just guessing.

Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 @ 8:11 AM by Jim13136 with a score of 0

The article is about children living in poverty…not tattoos and refugees…it takes a pretty callus person to deflect away from dealing with this issue. With attitudes like that it’s no surprise we have innocent children living under these conditions.


Yes, the issue is child poverty but can we really solve that issue without a better understanding of why there is so much poverty? There are people out there who do indeed spend what little money they have on tattoos and cigarettes while their children cry themselves to sleep at night. Writing a letter and forming a committee isn’t going to help anything.

Bennett does a lot of work out in the community, I’d like to hear his ideas about why we have so much poverty. The first step to solving a problem is to understand why the problem exists.

I would like to see child poverty and mental health problems dealt with first. Then we can start looking at the 25k refugees.
I think the refugees should only be here temporarily until we can sort things out and when it’s safe for them to return. Send them back to Syria and help them rebuild

First of all, I wish we could solve child poverty. However, I don’t think there is a solution that can balance the desire to help the kids with parents right to spend their money the way they want. However, the real purpose of my comment is that this is another poverty report that is using very flawed statistics.

I downloaded the BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition to see if they were using the Statistics Canada Low Income measure to measure poverty. And yes they are, which means the report is deeply flawed.

The Stats Can low income measure is not a measure of poverty. It is a statistic to see what parts of the population are in the low income category and what portion are in the high income category. If somehow everyone’s real income doubled, there would still be roughly 20% of Canadians below the low income cut-off. It is simply not a measurement of poverty. This is a quote from Stats Can’s website:

“On poverty and low income

by Ivan P. Fellegi, Chief Statistician of Canada

Recently the news media have provided increasing coverage of Statistics Canada’s low income cut-offs and their relationship to the measurement of poverty. At the heart of the debate is the use of the low income cut-offs as poverty lines, even though Statistics Canada has clearly stated, since their publication began over 25 years ago, that they are not. The high profile recently given to this issue has presented Statistics Canada with a welcome opportunity to restate its position on these issues.”

The report is about children living in families with low income. You can not assume these children all go hungry. While some might there are also places like food banks where people can get food to supplement what they buy or they could be living with other family members who help out as well. There are probably families who make more than the poverty level but whose kids are going without because their priorities are “tattoos” or drugs or alcohol etc and not their kids. I don’t know how you make sure that money is going to the well being of the kids and not being misspent.

hey just blame the government…oh how about blaming Harper for this one too.

But for goodness sake, don’t blame a lot of irresponsible parents who care more about welfare cheques coming, booze and drugs, rather than taking some very fundamental responsibility and cleaning up their homes, themselves, and their attitude toward the health and safety of their children.

without any apologies to all the lefties on this site, this is my opinion.

Thank you everyone for your comments so far. Some I agree with and some I will agree to disagree and for me that is a very god thing. I would have been more upset if I woke up this morning and either there was no story or there was a story and there were zero comments.

In my opinion the first step to addressing any problem is to get the conversation going and realize there is a problem there. I know some of you may not think there is a problem and your opinions are just as valuable.

I am not saying that we have an abundance of children running around with no shoes on their feet and no food in their stomachs. I am saying we have a high percentage of families living below the poverty line. One thing mentioned last night and strongly believe is that of the “21%” many of those families are ones that you may not even recognize as being in poverty. They are the ones who on the surface look like they are doing OK. But when you look close you realize that they paid rent so they can’t buy winter clothes or the kids are eating so they are not. These parents work so hard just to provide. That needs to be recognized. I see these families every day. It is more common than you think or may want to admit.

There was a comment about being “sickened that people are using this money on tattoos and cigarettes”. You know what some probably are. I will not argue with you about that. However I would suspect that is a small percentage.

Axman, you asked about some reasons why I think there is a problem. Here are just a few that I can share today.

1)Increased costs of rental market and maintenance in rentals. Rents are increasing. According to an ad this morning on Kijiji a three bedroom half duplex is $1100 plus utilities. In addition a lot of rental houses may need new furnaces, hot water tanks, windows etc. Meaning people are paying more for utilities. Here is some numbers for you based on the rental information above. If you are making $11/hour (above Minimum wage) working full time your bringing home a gross income of $1900/month. This means that a large portion of your income is going to support shelter.

2)Increase costs of food. Don’t think people can argue that the costs of food is increasing. Has anyone noticed the price of beef lately?

3)Poverty is generational. This means poverty wasn’t addressed in previous generations meaning the problem is greater now. If we don’t take action it will be even worse for the next generation. Breaking the cycle of poverty is very difficult. Trust me, I know from personal experience.

4)Sustainability of social services. The costs associated with all our social services are increasing and funding is being more competitive. It means agencies are forced to do more with less to try and meet the demand.

5)Increasing Mental Health concerns. It seems that more people are battling mental health concerns and that can have an impact on their spending and ability to work. Mental Health is another area where I think work is needed.

6)Poverty is situational. I don’t think many people chose to get ill or chose to lose their jobs. I know that this probably makes up a portion of the “21%”. I also recognize that once you enter the cycle it is difficult to get out.

I recognize the comment above that the stats and report may be “flawed”. You may be right. However, what I can tell you is I have worked in the social services field for over 12 years. The children and families we are working with today are very different than the families we worked with then. The level of support needed now is significantly different. That I can say with all certainty.

Regardless if you agree with me or think I am dead wrong I know that something needs to be done to ensure that children and youth living in Prince George have the opportunity to meet and exceed their potential because that is what is going to build a strong community and that is what is going to create the best return on investment for our country. To do this we need to ensure that a) kids are coming to school ready to learn. Our staff spend a large part of their day ensuring that kids are ready to learn (mentally, physically, emotionally) and b) there is a plan to bring government, social services, the school district, Northern Health and the community together to find a way to reduce child and family poverty.

Nothing will change if we don’t talk about it!

Would be interested in hearing more of your thoughts. You can email me tbennett@sd57.bc.ca, on twitter at @tiben12 or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TrusteeTim.

Thank you for reading my long winded comment.

Tim Bennett

Drop out rates are a good measurement. How many drop outs do you think have any opportunity of securing a decent paying job? Our very own school system sends these kids out into the world with no skills…..this is something that could be addressed. By government.

Low wages,lack of jobs and high rental rates all create poverty. It is getting much harder for anyone to own a home. I have to agree with Jim13136. Many times they post adds for training upgrades but there are no seats available. Many students can not afford to go to school.

Good post Tim- I did not read your posting before posted. Another thing that has made it very hard to survive is many places have gone away from the 40 hr work week and are now working 20 hrs with no benefits.

There was a point in our life where we had to resort to social assistance. We survived. We managed to find a two bedroom townhouse – not the greatest of neighborhoods, managed to eat properly, managed to cloth properly, managed to provide toys for our daughter, managed is the key word. And – we got no help from anyone to balance it out.

We didn’t drink, we didn’t smoke, we didn’t have cable vision, we didn’t make long distance calls, we ate out once a week on Taco Tuesday, the toys came from creative use of things we found, clothes came from thrift stores, transportation was by bicycle. No bike lanes back then either!!!

Then, I managed to get a minimum wage job, still below poverty line, and we thought we’d started to thrive.

If kids are hungry and poorly clothed in PG, it’s mostly because their parent (s) can’t manage money. And if you double welfare tomorrow, the liquor stores and bars will celebrate, and those kids, will still be hungry.

Now if you like, we could open up a cafeteria for these families, give them a bus pass to get there, but cut out the food part of their welfare check since we’re feeding them. Then we’ll hear all sorts of howling and referrals to the Supreme Court. And we’ll also see some of the cities liquor establishments suffer, and some drug dealers feeling the pain as well. Sad, but fact is, addicts can’t manage anything. And unless you’re saying Christy Clark got them addicted, it’s not her fault either.

And our time of troubles was in Kamloops, a city whose cost structure isn’t much different than here.

PG101. I am not sure of the hypocrisy of wanting to improve the lives of children and youth and comparing that to Syrian refugees. If it is because of financial constraints then I don’t see the connection. Canada has a long history of welcoming refugees. It is one of the many reasons why our country is so great. I have read that almost 100,000 since the 1950s. During those times we were still able to offer social assistance to our Canadian families. Am I providing direct donations to bring refugees to Canada and specifically Prince George? No, because I am choosing to support other causes and ones that primarily help create positive change for children and youth (hence my profession and my decision to run and serve as a Trustee). Will I treat all refugees with respect and dignity and assist them if I see them struggling.. Yes, because that is right thing to do in my opinion.

So to answer your question P Val… you are absolutely correct.

Tim Bennett

As I always say, complicated issues do not get fixed with simple black and white solutions. Thanks Tim for providing some of the complications behind poverty. Although it is easier to think all children living in have parents who are addicts, it is not always that case. Reality is many, like Tim mentioned, look like average folks but are struggling to make ends meet.

A single parent with 2 kids working a minimum wage job (no benefits), paying daycare and using transit will find food that last item they spend the pay cheque on because rent, top ups after daycare subsidies, transit, and utilities go first. Food banks are flooded with the working poor. Yet this same parent can stay home on welfare, spend more time with her children and find herself at the food banks anyways. It’s a fine line between working poor and living on welfare.

What would help? Multiple changes to remove barriers to accessing services, the collaboration of existing major agencies and governments, increases in services I.e. increase threshold of income for parents seeking daycare subsidies, invest in social services, decrease tuition in post secondary Ed, etc.

Any of the answers need to be sustainable and not a bandaid for the next 4 years of a government’s term in office but a long term plan that all governments and society hold as a value, much like Canada Pension or our Health Care system (wavering in recent years but you get the drift).

Quick side note – why are people’s thinking so binary? Refugees or homeless, refugees or ISIS, child poverty or addicts….

I wonder what Christy (Families First) Clark thinks about this?

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