First Call Releases 2015 Child Poverty Report Card
The 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card released by First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition stresses that “BC’s continued failure to develop a comprehensive poverty reduction plan with targets and timelines has left the provinces child poverty rate unacceptably high.” The report points out that, at 20.4% (1 in 5 children), BC’s child poverty rate is higher than the Canadian average of 19% and represents 167,810 children. Just over half, or 85,450 of these children, lived in Metro Vancouver. The report uses statistics from 2013, the most recent data available.
More than half (50.3%) of all children living in lone-parent families, the vast majority of them single mother families, were living in poverty in 2013, compared to 13% for children in couple families.
“The data in this report is evidence of a continuing child poverty crisis that reaches into every corner of the province. With a new federal government intent on developing a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy that is to be aligned with provincial strategies, it’s time for BC to join the other provinces and develop a provincial poverty reduction plan,” said Cheryl Mixon, chairperson of the First Call coalition.
The report card makes 21 public policy recommendations that would help reduce the child poverty rate to 7% or less by 2020.
First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition is part of Campaign 2000, a national network that marks the anniversary every November of the 1989 pledge by the House of Commons to work to end child poverty by the year 2000.
The 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card was prepared by the First Call Coalition with the help of the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC).
The key findings of the report are:
- 1 out of 5 BC children (167,810) are living in poverty
- BC’s child poverty rate from 2000 to 2013 remained consistently higher than the Canadian average, and has increased from a level in 1989 of 15.5% to the 2013 level of 20.4% overall
- The early years are a critical time for child development, yet children aged 0-5 have an even higher poverty rate of 20.7%
- Child poverty touches every part of BC: 23 of 29 regions had at least 1,000 children living in poverty.
- Child poverty in BC includes all family types, but it’s even worse for children of single parents: 1 in every 2 BC children of single parents were poor in 2013.
- Many children in BC are food and housing insecure: BC has the worst provincial rate of core housing need for two-parent families.
- Many families are extremely poor: in 2013, the average poor two-parent family with one child lived on only $17,680 per year, 40% below the poverty line.
- A family of four on income assistance has to get by on only $22,041 a year.
- In 2014, 30,000 BC children relied on food banks, up 23% from 2008.
- Most poor kids have working parents: 1 in 3 have at least one parent who works full time.
- A single parent working full time full year for minimum wage earns only $19,019.
- There is growing income inequality in BC: the richest 10% of BC families with children received 24% of the total income, while the poorest 50% shared 25%.
The report points out that governments can and do help: in 2013, 63,890 BC children were lifted out of poverty thanks to government help. However, the need is still not being met. The authors of the report argue the need for a comprehensive provincial poverty reduction plan in BC with legislated targets and timelines, a cabinet minister with the authority and responsibility to ensure government is achieving its targets on time, and a goal of reducing BC’s child poverty rate to 7% or lower by 2020. The report makes twenty-one recommendations for cooperative initiatives between federal and provincial governments to address child poverty in BC, with particular emphasis on the highest-risk groups: recent immigrants and refugees, Aboriginal children, children of female lone-parent families, children in racialized families and children with a disability.