FIRST Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition on Wednesday released the 24th annual BC Child Poverty Report Card finding that not much has changed for poor children and their families.
In 2018, the year this report covers, there were 159,570 (18.5%) children and youth living in poor households with many living in deep poverty.
“Once again, using Statistics Canada’s Census Family Low Income Measure after tax, our report finds one in five children in BC were living in poverty in 2018,” said Adrienne Montani, First Call’s Provincial Coordinator. “And we are disappointed to see an increase of over 7,000 children under the age of six who were poor compared to 2017.”
2018 findings include:
• 159,570 children and youth were living in poor households down slightly from 2017 (163,730);
• 59,000 poor children were under the age of six an increase from 2017 (51,760);
• At 18.5%, BC’s child poverty rate was slightly higher than the national child poverty rate of 18.2%;
• The poverty rate for children living in lone-parent families was still shamefully high at 50.4%;
• The poverty rate for children living in couple families was 10.2%; and
• The median income for female lone parent households of $44,590, was just 68% of the $65,440 median income for male lone parent households.
Indigenous children, new immigrant children, children in visible or racialized minority groups and those affected by disabilities all have much higher poverty rates than the BC average.
While there are poor children growing up in all areas of BC, many of the regional districts with the highest child poverty rates were located in coastal areas, particularly along the north and central coastal areas.
First Call’s recommendations to the provincial government for better income supports and universal programs include the following, among others:
• Index the BC Child Opportunity Benefit to the annual inflation rate;
• Continue to prioritize new child care investments in the 2021 budget and beyond;
• Continue increased investments in affordable housing and tie rent control to the unit to remove the incentive for evictions of current tenants to raise the rent for new tenants
• Collaborate with First Nations, Métis and Inuit governments and Indigenous organizations to develop plans to prevent, reduce and eradicate child and family poverty in Indigenous communities;
• Automatically enroll all young people transitioning out of government care in an income support program that meets their basic living costs;
• Ensure all workers in BC are covered by the hourly minimum wage by the end of 2021 and have a legislated right to paid sick leave; and
• Increase income and disability assistance rates, including increases for families with a child with disabilities.