Child poverty in B.C. still as high as ever
According to the annual B.C. Child Poverty Report Card, almost a fifth of the province's children are still living in poverty.
And for the first time in the report card's 23 years, children in single-parent families constituted more than half of those living below the poverty level.
In a January 14 news release, First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition announced that in 2017, the most recent year for which there are complete statistics, 163,730 children and youth lived in poor households, almost one in five.
Of those, 51,760 were under the age of six.
Out of all the territories and provinces, B.C. had the eighth-highest total child-poverty rate, 19.1 percent; the national rate is 18.6 percent.
The rate for children living in single-parent families is much higher, at 51.4 percent (the first time it rose past 50 percent), and for the first time in nine years, the number of impoverished children living in single-parent families increased, from 81,960 in 2016 to 86,690 for this year's report card.
First Call is a coalition of more than 100 B.C. groups that seek to educate about and advocate for child and youth issues.
The geographic distribution of the province's poor children results in regional imbalances, with the Central Coast Regional District claiming 42.5 percent of the total, and the East Kootenay Regional District housing 15.3 percent.
The children of immigrants, Indigenous children, kids with disabilities, and those in visible-minority groups have much higher rates of poverty than the provincial average.
First Call is asking the government to raise monthly income assistance rates and disability payments and to implement universal social programs like childcare and affordable housing, as well as a quicker implementation of the $15 per hour minimum wage.
To view the entire report card, go here.