B.C.'s child-poverty rate still among highest in Canada, report says
A new report shows British Columbia continues to have one of the highest levels of child poverty in the country.
In B.C., the child-poverty rate rose to 16.4 percent in 2009 from 14.5 percent in 2008, according to the 2011 Child Poverty Report Card.
That means 137,000 children in the province were living in poverty, says the report released today (November 23) by the B.C. child-advocacy group First Call.
The rate of poverty for B.C. children under the age of six, at 20.2 percent, was higher than the overall rate.
B.C.’s 2009 child-poverty rate was higher than all provinces except Manitoba, where it was 16.8 percent. B.C.’s rate was also above the national average of 14 percent.
The measure of poverty is based on recent before-tax figures from Statistics Canada.
First Call spokesperson Steve Kerstetter said there is need for a comprehensive poverty-reduction strategy in B.C.
“It’s bad all around and we have yet to see any definitive action by our provincial government to address child poverty and poverty in general in a serious way,” he told the Straight by phone.
The new report calls for the B.C. child-poverty rate to be reduced to at least seven percent by 2020 and urges both the provincial and federal governments to do more.
Among its recommendations, the report calls for increases to the B.C. minimum wage and federal child tax benefits, and better employment assistance and more language training for immigrants and refugees.