According to the 2013 Child Poverty Report Card, published by firstcall.org, the latest figures from Statistics Canada (2011) once again show that B.C. is the worst province in Canada when it comes to major measures of child poverty.
Some numbers where has won the race to the bottom:
• 18.6 per cent — The child poverty rate in B.C.
• 49.8 per cent — The poverty rate for children living in single mother families.
• 14 per cent — The poverty rate for children living in two-parent families.
• 20.7 per cent — B.C’.s poverty rate for children under 6 years of age (eight percentage points higher than the Canadian average).
There is abundant evidence of the harm done to children’s health and development by growing up in poverty, and of the huge additional costs in health care, education, the justice system and lost productivity we are already paying by keeping poverty rates so high.
Yet the province doesn’t have a plan to address child poverty. In 2012 a program set out to develop “regional poverty reduction strategies.” This pilot program directly affected only 10 to 15 low-income families in seven communities, with promises to scale the initiative up to more communities within a year or two.
The 2013 Poverty Report Card notes that there has yet to be a public reporting of the outcomes of these seven initiatives.
Poverty numbers are tracked nationally and provincially, but the real impact of poverty happens at the level of the individual family. That’s where the hunger is felt the most.
Thank goodness our communities are filled with wonderful people who see the need as immediate and take action through the Lion’s Christmas Hampers, Food Sharing and emergency food banks. Bless those who give as they are able.