Research has long demonstrated that poverty is toxic to children’s health and development. From poor nutrition to family stress to exclusion from social participation, there are many ways poverty is known to raise the risk of lifelong ill effects on health and reduce opportunities for children and youth to realize their full potential.
Despite consistently high rates of child poverty in BC, there has been little concrete action taken by provincial and federal governments.
Every November, First Call, with the support of the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC), releases a report card with the latest statistics on child and family poverty in BC and recommendations for policy changes that would reduce these poverty levels. This is done in conjunction with the release of a national child poverty report card by Campaign 2000.
The data and recommendations in our annual report cards are highly respected and are widely used by our members and allies, the media and the Official Opposition.
Our report cards serve as an educational tool to make all British Columbians aware of the extent of child poverty in BC, but they are also a call to action. They include public policy recommendations directed at all three levels of government.
The overarching recommendation in all of our annual report cards is for the provincial government to adopt a comprehensive poverty reduction plan with legislated targets and timelines and a cabinet minister with the authority and responsibility to ensure government is achieving its targets on time. We recommend the plan contain a goal to reduce BC’s child poverty rate to 7% or lower by 2020.
The 2016 BC Child Poverty Report Card
The 2016 BC Child Poverty Report Card released November 2016 by First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition shows BC’s continued failure to develop a comprehensive poverty reduction plan with targets and timelines has left the provinces child poverty rate unacceptably high.
First Call has been tracking child and family poverty rates in BC for two decades. Our first provincial report card containing data for 1994 showed that one in five BC children were poor. It is profoundly disappointing that 20 years later the data still shows that one in five BC children are poor.
We know that such a widespread problem requires policy changes and social investments from our provincial and federal governments. It’s a question of priorities. The 2016 BC Child Poverty Report Card includes a list of recommendations that would make a real difference to the size and depth of BC’s child and family poverty problem.
Check out our 2016 report card website www.still1in5.ca
1. Email the premier
Send an email to Premier Clark asking her to act on the Provincial Recommendations in the report card, which would make a real difference to the size and depth of BC’s child and family poverty crisis.
2.Talk to your local provincial and federal government representative
The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition has prepared some great provincial resources, including specific guides for talking to NDP or Liberal MLAs about poverty, which you can find on their Meet Your MLA page.
3. Spread the word
Share and retweet First Call’s report card graphics and posts through Facebook and Twitter today! Use the prepared posts and tweets in our Report Card Social Media Kit to spread the findings of the report card through your own social media. Stay tuned for Infographics to share.
4. Write a letter to the editor
Got a bit more time? Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about the state of child poverty in BC and highlight the need to take action.
You can find a list of letters to the editor contact information for local papers across BC here, and tips for getting your letter picked up here. Mention the key child poverty facts highlighted in our press release.
5. Ask everyone you know to take action!
Community pressure works to convince governments to take action, so please encourage others to learn about child poverty and support the recommendations in the BC Child Poverty Report Card.
We need a lot of pressure to push our elected representatives to take bold steps. Please ask your colleagues, friends, family and even strangers to take the five action steps!
First Call has been tracking child and family poverty rates in BC for nearly two decades as the BC representative of Campaign 2000. Our first provincial report card was published in 1996 and contained data from 1994.
Campaign 2000 is a cross-Canada public education movement to build Canadian awareness and support for the 1989 all-party House of Commons resolution to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000. Campaign 2000 began in 1991 out of concern about the lack of government progress in addressing child poverty. Campaign 2000 is non-partisan in urging all Canadian elected officials to keep their promise to Canada’s children.
This House “seek(s) to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000”
– House of Commons, unanimous all-party resolution, November 24, 1989
Campaign 2000 publishes a national Child Poverty Report Card every year, and in addition to First Call publishing a British Columbian report card, report cards are also published for other provinces including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Previous Report Cards
For earlier report cards please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out our 2016 report card website www.still1in5.ca
BC is the last province in Canada without a poverty reduction plan. Learn more by visiting the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and join the call for a poverty reduction plan for BC.
Income and disability assistance rates have not been raised since 2007 and they are well below the poverty line. Check out the great work of the Raise the Rates Coalition
Learn more about national child poverty rates by visiting Campaign 2000