Single Mothers’ Alliance of B.C. forms to fight child poverty

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      Vancouver resident Viveca Ellis wonders why B.C. premier Christy Clark, when asked to take action on child poverty, always seems to respond with three letters: LNG.

      The single mother told the Georgia Straight that liquefied natural gas “means nothing” to hungry kids across the province.

      “Christy Clark seems to be abandoning women and single mothers and their children to this rapidly growing poverty that is setting back British Columbia so profoundly, because this is the next generation,” Ellis said by phone from her home.

      Ellis is cofounder and president of the newly formed Single Mothers’ Alliance of B.C. Established in June, the nonprofit organization aims to advocate for, educate, and build a community of single moms.

      According to Ellis, poverty among single mothers is a “major contributor” to child poverty in B.C. She noted that many single moms are struggling with the costs of childcare and housing and are reliant on food banks.

      Ellis asserted that ending the province’s clawback of child-support payments from people collecting income or disability assistance would be a “great start”.

      “It’s really a save-a-penny, starve-a-child government policy, because what it does is it actually takes money that the children have out of their hands,” Ellis said. “It actually takes food and activities and health away from them.”

      Premier Clark and Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Don McRae were unavailable for interviews. In its Accessibility 2024 plan, released on June 16, the government promised consultation on “family maintenance payments for families receiving disability and income assistance”.

      According to a 2013 report by First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, B.C. had the “worst poverty rate of any province for children living in single mother families” in 2011. At 49.8 percent, this was the “highest poverty rate for persons in any family type” in the province that year.

      In September, SMA plans to carry out a “listening project” in order to hear from single moms and determine the organization’s priorities.

      “We feel that in British Columbia at this time, it’s so bad for single mothers that we just want to get them together to talk—to mine into the issues,” Ellis said.




      Aug 6, 2014 at 11:27am

      Christy Clark doesn't care, Think she cares if kids go hungry no... if it was her own son or fat ass then yes I bet she would.

      Good memory

      Aug 6, 2014 at 12:12pm

      The rates under the NDP were higher than most years under the Liberals: the fact is that one party doesn't care and the other...doesn't care. Millions of dollars disappear each year into bureaucracies that are always growing yet never producing, solving or fixing. Frontline case workers lose their jobs to pay for salary and bonus increases for management but the public drones blame government or unions doe the problems and the real decision makers continue on the pilfering way. The policies of the elected government make no difference, they are there to distract the 50% who pay attention under the mistaken belief someone besides career bureaucrats make the decisions.

      There is no mechanism to guarantee money earmarked for helping those in need will actually be used to that end. Budgets increase every year, but most of that money is eaten up by bureaucratic bloat & greed. Look at the welfare rolls and benefits that haven't change much over 20 years then do the math: why is it costing more than twice as much to deliver roughly the same amount benefits with fewer case workers and public offices? How can bureaucrats in the Ministry of Children & Families disregard government directives regarding pay freezes?

      The SMA appears to be a typical response, unfortunately for those who have fantasies of yet another "non-profit" doing something besides overpay management and send employees to conferences worldwide. I hope SMA folks don't apply for government grants to travel the world to "study" the issue as so often happens: one can learn about relevant policies in Sweden & other European countries with some online research and skype interviews & town halls. One doesn't need to go to Vienna to visit daycare centres in industrial estates or office parks to make things better here. Please SMA don't be just another bunch of activists justifying spending money that should be going directly to those you claim to support.

      Their "listening project" sounds like typical non-profit time & money wasting wrapped in a friendly & inclusive message. I can tell you what many of the results will be without spending a month on repeating work already done & paid for. Naturally there will have to be recognition of the compound struggles faced by single mothers who fall under any other marginalized group and other studies made at someone's expense.

      Not Jaded (Tara Sundberg)

      Aug 7, 2014 at 9:15am

      Actually, ending the clawbacks of support payments is precisely the kind of simple policy change that would guarantee more money goes to children living in poverty. Notwithstanding bureaucrat salaries are too high, it's just cynical to disregard the impact front line non profit organizations are having.

      No Excuses

      Aug 7, 2014 at 10:31am

      Many of these women need to take some responsibility for having children and not being able to support them. I know there are many reasons why this happens and some cases were not their fault, but some women make stupid decisions, not only on who they chose as a father (or choose to not have a father), but also for having kids with no long-term financial security. Just because you want kids doesn't mean you deserve to have them.

      this is a womans

      Aug 7, 2014 at 5:35pm

      I have worked hard my entire life because my father abandoned me at 15 and my mother died when I was 4. After being abused and unloved in foster care I did not want to abandon my own child. When my daughter was between 1-12 years I could not find decent reliable childcare in my area that I could walk or bus to, and once my daughter started school nobody wanted her because after school care does not earn the daycare enough money and takes up space. When she turned 12 she was home alone. It was degrading, and I never imagined that I would not be able to work. I was depressed. We lived in poverty on the verge of homelessness. I suffered discrimination. I will probably retire in poverty because I cannot catch up from the early years, and because I could not live on assistance I took out student loans and went back to school. $30,000.00 in dept later, and I am still struggling. I remember sitting in the Welfare office discussing my childcare needs and the woman said to me "Don't you have a neighbor or a family member who can look after your child for free". What a laugh. Nobody can afford to babysit for free in this economy. I received 850 per month to live on, and my ex never paid child support or worked because he felt cheated that not only did the government garnishee his wage, but then they grabbed it back. They made me cash in Education Savings Plan and all my RRSP before they would give my even one month of emergency support during summer when student loans would no cover me or while I was looking for work and daycare. If I could have received that small bit of child support while on assistance or worked part time, I would have had enough to get a bus pass and put a deposit on childcare. I would not have had to quit my job,and then retrain because I was out of the workforce so long. Its easy to sit in judgment, but then one day when it happens to you, finally you can understand that these are complicated matters and women need more help. Women sacrifice career for children and then they are abandoned. I feel sad that some women have more kids just so they can get a slightly larger cheque to cover the rent. I think all schools should have before/after school care it would make things better for everybody, and women should get equal pay.