B.C. had the second-highest rate of child poverty among the provinces in 2010, according to a report card released today by the advocacy group First Call.
B.C.'s rate of 14.3 percent of kids living in poverty ranked only behind the percentage in Manitoba and exceeded the national average of 13.7 percent in 2010.
Approximately two-thirds of the 119,000 poor children in B.C. lived in the Lower Mainland that year.
The organization notes that B.C.'s top 10 percent of income earners made 13.8 percent times the income of B.C.'s lowest income earners—the greatest gap of all provinces in 2010.
The 11.6 percent poverty rate for kids in two-parent homes was also the highest in Canada; incomes for these families were $13,800, on average, below the poverty line.
In a news release accompanying the dissemination of the data, Dr. John Millar of the Public Health Association of B.C. pointed out that high levels of income inequality have been linked to greater infant mortality, crime, mental illness, addiction, and obesity, as well as reduced educational outcomes.
"This is a recipe for a very sick society, unless we turn this around," Millar stated.
British epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson, cofounder of the U.K.-based Equity Trust, has demonstrated that growing levels of inequality not only shorten the lives of poor people, but also undermine the lives of the better-off. That's because they are more likely to become victims of violence and their kids will be less likely to do as well in school in more unequal societies.
First Call has called on all provincial parties to present a "comprehensive plan" to reduce B.C.'s child-poverty rate before the 2013 provincial election.