One in Five B.C. Children Living in Poverty
Prince George, B.C. – The new Child Poverty report card produced by First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition says there has been virtually no change in the child poverty rate in this province.
Based on statistics from 2014, the report says 19.8% of all children in B.C. (163,260 children) are living in poverty. That is down from the 2013 rate of 20.4% and is due entirely to a slight drop in the poverty rate for children in couple families, which is sitting at 12.4% , the previous mark was 13%.
The report says there has been no change in the poverty rate among children living in single parent families, that rate remains at 50.4%.
Regionally , the Regional District of Fraser Fort George has one of the lower child poverty rates in the province with 18.3% living in low income families, that is unchanged from the previous year but remains lower than the B.C. rate and the National rate which is 18.5%. East Kootenay has the lowest rate in the Province at 14.3% while the Central Coast has the highest rate at 51.9%.
“Poverty affects children’s development and robs them of their potential” says Michael McKnight, president and CEO of United Way of the Lower Mainland, “It’s imperative for the future of our province that we tackle this issue now. When we invest in our children, we are investing in our future.”
The report makes 20 recommendations which include a call for the Province to develop a poverty reduction plan and to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour as soon as possible. Other recommendations include:
- implementation of a $10 per day child care plan,
- increases to income and disability rates,
- increases to affordable housing
- that the province work with the Federal Government o develop universal coverage for prescription drugs, dental and eye care
- that the Federal Government enhance Employment Insurance to provide easier access, longer coverage and increased benefit levels.
The report notes that when compared with other provinces, B.C.’s child poverty rate is about the middle of the pack . Manitoba has the highest rate at 29% while Quebec’s rate is the lowest at 15.1%.