A B.C. child and youth advocacy coalition has released its 2015 child poverty report card and it shows that one in five children live in poverty.
The 19th annual report card was released by Vancouver-based First Call and details the latest statistics on child and family poverty in the province. The first provincial report card was issued in 1994, and back then data showed that one in five B.C. children were poor, 19 years later the problem remains exactly the same.
For children living in lone-parent families in B.C. in 2013, 50 per cent were poor. Poverty includes food insecurity and inadequate housing. According to the report, 20.4 per cent of British Columbian children aged 0-17 lived below the poverty line in 2013. This represents the fifth highest child poverty rate among Canadian provinces. There were an estimated 167,810 B.C. children living in poverty in 2013.
The poverty rate in British Columbia for children under six years old was 20.7 per cent in 2013, down from 22.5 per cent in 1989 and 27.8 per cent in 2000. However, in 2013, 55,520 of BC’s youngest children were still living in poverty, or just over one fifth of BC’s children under six.
In 2013, BC’s under-six child poverty rate of 20.7 per cent was slightly higher than Canada’s rate of 20.3 per cent and also slightly higher than the province’s overall child poverty rate of 20.4 per cent. Child poverty affects children in every corner of British Columbia. According to 2013 taxfiler data and the Low Income Measure (LIM) after tax, more than three in five (62 per cent) of British Columbia’s regional districts had child poverty rates of 20.0 per cent or higher, with British Columbia as a whole having a child poverty rate of 20.4 per cent.
The regional districts in the northeast and some parts of the Kootenays and Okanagan had the lowest child poverty rates in British Columbia. The regional districts on Vancouver Island, particularly the northern and western parts of Vancouver Island and the northern and central coastal areas of British Columbia had the highest child poverty rates. Lone-parent families with one child or two children in the Central Coast Regional District had median incomes of only $708 or $907 per month respectively.
The regional districts with the highest child poverty rates were:
■ Central Coast Regional District (50.6% child poverty rate)
■ Mount Waddington Regional District (35.1% child poverty rate)
■ Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District (33.0% child poverty rate)
The regional districts with the lowest child poverty rates were:
■ East Kootenay Regional District (15.5% child poverty rate)
■ Peace River Regional District (15.8% child poverty rate)
■ Northern Rockies (15.9% child poverty rate)
The report has several recommendations for the province including adopting a comprehensive poverty reduction plan that would see B.C.’s child poverty rate reduced to seven per cent or less by 2020. First Call believes this can be done by raising the minimum wage, having a living wage, raising income and disability assistance, redesigning the BC Early Childhood Tax Benefit, adopting the $10 a day child care plan, and introducing universal coverage for health care.