No change in long BC trend, says report
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
According to a national report, BC has the highest child poverty rates of any province in the country.
First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition recently released the 2016 report, which stated that BC had a child poverty rate of 20.1 per cent, meaning that one in five children in BC are living in poverty. Although the grade is 0.3 per cent lower than the 2015 report, it still remains incredibly problematic for BC families.
“We don’t have a decent child tax benefit in BC. We have a very stingy one compared to other provinces,” said Adrienne Montani, BC coordinator of First Call, to CBC.
Montani described income inequalities and lack of family social programs as some of the reasons why BC received such a low grade on the report. As well, she blames British Columbians for allowing prevalent child poverty to remain a reality in the province.
“We have allowed our governments not to step up,” she said in the CBC article. “We’ve allowed the narrative around poverty to be individualized and say it’s these individual families’ problems to struggle through this,” Montani told CBC prior to the report being released.
In 1989, the House of Commons made a pledge to eliminate child poverty in Canada. Yet according to the most recent report, child poverty has only increased in the past 27 years.
Montani pointed out that most of these children have working parents, but said parents are earning low wages at service and retail sector jobs.
“We see people working two or three part-time jobs and still being unable to make ends meet. We also see people transitioning back and forth between low paid work and social assistance,” said Shawn Pegg of Food Banks Canada, to CBC. CBC reported that 32 per cent of those who utilized the food bank were minors.
Families also struggle due to the inflation of goods and services, as well as employment and housing instability.
BC’s problem with impoverished children is not a new one. According to the 2016 report, these statistics are virtually the same as they were 20 years ago when the first report was released.
The report also depicts that of all of BC’s children, Aboriginal children were twice as likely as other children to fall into the category of children in poverty, especially those living in Surrey.
Other at-risk demographics included children from single-parent homes. One in two single parent families fell underneath the poverty line in the report, and of all of the poor families, half were headed by single-parents.