B.C.'s child-poverty rate worst in Canada for sixth year

The provincial coordinator of First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition isn’t optimistic that the improvement in the child-poverty rate in the province in 2007 will hold up, because of the recession.

“We expect the numbers to go up by the end of 2008,” Adrienne Montani told the Straight after her group took a look at the income figures for released by Statistics Canada on June 3.

According to First Call’s analysis, B.C.’s child-poverty rate fell to 13 percent in 2007 from 16.5 percent in 2006. Despite the decline, the province continued to have the worst child-poverty record across Canada for the sixth consecutive year. The 2007 rate is also higher than the national child-poverty rate of 9.5 percent.

In a phone interview, Montani noted that the economy was still doing well in 2007 but started to soften up in 2008.

“These last six years have been good economic times for this province, so a significant number of children and families were being left out of that prosperity,” Montani said. “It’s just not acceptable.”

There were 108,000 poor B.C. children in 2007 compared to 137,000 in 2006, according to a First Call news release. The release noted that the overall poverty rate in B.C. for all persons decreased from 13 percent in 2006 to 11.1 percent in 2007, “also the worst of any province” in Canada.

In its 2009 budget papers, the provincial government has acknowledged that the economy slowed down during the latter half of 2008, with B.C. experiencing job losses, lower consumer confidence, and slower business activity.

The finance ministry has estimated growth in 2008 at one percent. Things are expected to get worse this year, with the economy forecast to contract by 0.9 percent.

Child advocates like Montani have largely blamed cuts in social-program spending made by the B.C. Liberal government since it assumed power in 2001 as the main reason why child-poverty rates have worsened in the province.

In the run-up to this year’s May 12 election, First Call and other organizations urged political parties to adopt comprehensive antipoverty plans. They suggested special attention be given to those most likely to be living in poverty, like aboriginal people, people with disabilities and mental illness, those living in single-parent households,  and recent immigrants and refugees.

With respect to child poverty, Montani said First Call has called for a reduction of 25 percent by 2012 and 50 percent by 2017.

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3 Comments

Erasmus

Jun 4, 2009 at 12:02pm

The fact is that the government of British Columbia, as with all the other provinces and the federal government spend billions to prevent and eliminate poverty. By far, the largest amount of the government's budget is spent on health, education, and social services. Citizens do not need to go broke to obtain basic health care, they can acquire a good education, and the social safety net is spread out for those who fall. Please, how much more of tax dollars needs to be spent? At what point do we say that the indiviual needs to take some responsibility for their own actions?

starvingchildren

Jun 11, 2009 at 9:36pm

What are you talking about? How much should government spend to stop children from strafing and being left in the hands of sexual abusers or physical and mental abusers?
Enough to stop the abuse and starvation thats how much. And we all know what the priorities of this government is and it obviously isn't kids. Do you know what it my be? Oh how does it feel to be at the bottom of the barrel all thanks to that dunk ass budget planning of the Liberals? Looser Ville as those house prices plummet like no other. Yes and as far as babies and tots being responsible for their actions? Whats your excuse for condoning this sort of deporable behavior? Children are not sex toys, or objects to be booted about? Its the laws of this country? You don't like this country Erasmas? What country are you from as thats sure dosen't sound Candian.

Donna

Feb 3, 2010 at 4:32pm

If this country cleaned up the corruption in their ranks, it would go a long way to stop child poverty. The corruption has filtered to every government agency and service. There is a point of no return. Blue collar citizens, low income families and seniors, are in short supply, there have been massive lay offs, so, there are not enough of us to pay for the corruption. And, the government is an ass, and, just keeps on, bringing down more taxes, on citizens, of whom, have lost their jobs and their homes. How are we to pay? With what? However, corruption pays too well, and, no governing officials want to lose their cash cow. Corruption and greed are what governs this country. Campbell, has the prize, for lying and deceit and is the most corrupt premier, in the history of Canada.