B.C. leads country in child poverty

                                                      Photo by Cuito Canavale


B.C.’s latest child poverty report card shows the province leads the country with the highest child poverty rate, and boasts the highest overall poverty rate, too.


The 2013 Child Poverty Report Card issued by First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, The Social Planning and Research Council of BC, and Campaign 2000, found 18.6 per cent of families with kids lived below the poverty line in 2011.


That’s higher than the national average of 13.3 per cent, and 4.3 per cent higher than the number of families in B.C. living in poverty the year before. The same report, which uses Statistics Canada’s annual Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics data to calculate poverty based on the low-income cut off point before income tax, found 15.5 per cent of all British Columbians lived in poverty in 2011, two per cent higher than the national average.


Compared to other provinces like Quebec, which lifted 52 per cent of families with kids out of poverty through government transfers in 2011, B.C. had the lowest improvement with just 31 per cent of families pushed above the poverty line with transfers like the Child Tax Benefit. Among the 16 recommendations outlined in the report are a call to raise minimum wage, income assistance and disability rates, indexing them to the cost of living. It’s a recommendation Anita Huberman, chair of the Surrey Board of Trade, spoke in favour of at the report’s release on November 21.


“The Surrey Board of Trade was one of the few industry associations that advocated to the provincial government to raise the minimum wage, to equalize it at least with the other provinces,” she said. “When we’re talking about further increasing of the minimum wage and indexing, we are supportive of that.”


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