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NEWS RELEASE · 20th June 2011
BC NDP
B.C. has highest level of child poverty for eighth year in a row

Statistics Canada numbers reveal this week that the B.C. Liberals have done little to improve the lives of B.C.’s poorest citizens for over a decade, say the New Democrats.

Statistics Canada numbers released Wednesday show that B.C. continues to hold the highest rate of child poverty in the nation for the eighth year in a row, with B.C.'s overall poverty numbers the highest in Canada for 11 years.

“No matter what tool you use to measure poverty the reality is that our province continues to have the worst record,” said Shane Simpson, the New Democrat critic for social development. “The situation has become extremely desperate and there is no evidence the government has given this subject any priority.

“It’s time for the B.C. Liberals to stop making excuses for their inaction on poverty and commit to a poverty reduction plan that addresses income, housing, child care, education, training and the social determinants of health.”

According to Statistics Canada numbers, B.C.’s child poverty rate increased from 10.4 per cent to 12 per cent in 2009, an increase of 1.6 per cent compared to a 0.4 per cent increase nationally. The number of B.C. children living in poverty rose from 87,000 to 100,000 in 2009. The number of poor persons of all ages rose from 490,000 to 528,000 in 2009.

“It’s clear we’re headed in the wrong direction when 12 per cent of the province is living in poverty,” said Simpson, the MLA for Vancouver - Hastings. “If Premier Christy Clark truly believed in a ‘family first agenda’ she would start by addressing families that are most vulnerable first, and that isn’t happening.

“During the legislative session, I introduced a private member's bill, the Poverty Reduction Act,” said Simpson. “If put in place, this legislation would put a minister responsible for dealing with poverty reduction with clear targets, clear timelines and a system of accountability. However, the B.C. Liberals refuse to work together and unlike most other provinces, they have no poverty reduction plan at all.”

Seven other provinces and territories have either committed to or have enacted a poverty reduction strategy, yet despite having the highest poverty rate in Canada, the B.C. Liberals have neglected to take action in B.C. to break the cycle of poverty.

Claire Trevena, the New Democrat critic for children and families noted that the poverty figures do not include aboriginal children living on reserves.

“The reality is that while the B.C. Liberals have had over 10 years to address poverty, there are more than 100,000 children, many aboriginal, living in poverty in B.C. There are still children slipping through huge cracks within a patchwork system of services,” said Trevena, the MLA for North Island.

A recent infant death review of 21 families, conducted by children’s watchdog Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, found each family struggled with deep poverty and that was the single largest risk factor in their environment. The report noted that an ‘alarming number’ of the infants were aboriginal.

“We have an obligation to take the steps necessary to reduce poverty and to create opportunities for greater prosperity,” said Simpson. “We have an obligation to identify strategies to accomplish these objectives and to put them at the forefront of public debate and ultimately to legislate those strategies and put them into action.”
What? No comment?
Comment by Colleen Austin on 21st June 2011
I don't usually make my thoughts public but I'm surprised that nobody has commented on this post...even those who usually post coments. Does this mean that we are not outraged? Or does it mean that we have become numb to these stats? If you don't feel inclined to post then make sure the next election reflects your views on this devastating stat which affects all of us, our community and our future! A properous community relies on strong, healthy, educated, vibrant youth now!