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.