British Columbia’s child poverty statistics are chilling.
In 2020, the child poverty rate in the province was 13.3 per cent, or more than one in eight children.
That figure, presented in February 2023 by the First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society, showed a marked improvement from the 2019 statistics when close to one in five British Columbia children lived in poverty.
Still, when more than one in eight British Columbia children are living in poverty, something is horribly wrong.
British Columbia’s child poverty statistics are not spread evenly. The rates are significantly higher in Indigenous communities, among those who have recently immigrated, among children in racialized groups and those in single-parent households.
The 2020 reduction in the child poverty rate, came as a result of federal and provincial benefits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures helped many households in the province and in the country. In addition, poverty levels in Canada have been decreasing in recent years, according to information from Statistics Canada.
Since 2018, Canada’s federal government has had a poverty reduction strategy in place, with the goal of reducing poverty in this country.
In 1989, the Canadian parliament voted unanimously to eliminate child poverty by 2000. That date passed more than two decades ago, but the goal remains unmet.
If the need was urgent in 1989, it is critical today. Food and housing costs have risen significantly over the years, but incomes have not kept pace.
Last year, Canada’s rate of inflation was more than 6.8 per cent. This means those who were struggling financially one and two years ago are in a much more dire situation today.
Poverty statistics, including child poverty figures, have been trending in the right direction in recent years. This is encouraging.
At the same time, poverty remains a problem in this province and throughout Canada.
Unless continued emphasis is made to curb and reduce child poverty, an already disturbing situation could soon become much worse.
— Black Press