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 government.
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.
First Call’s overarching recommendation has long been for the provincial government to adopt a comprehensive poverty reduction plan with legislated targets and timelines, and we are encouraged to see this is now in progress, and that a cabinet minister has been given the authority and responsibility to ensure government achieves 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 2019 BC Child Poverty Report Card
About This Year’s Report Card
Since 1996, the BC Child Poverty Report Card has been released each year on November 24, in conjunction with the release of child poverty report cards across Canada, marking the anniversary of the all-party House of Commons resolution to end child poverty by the year 2000.
Due to a change in the timing of Statistics Canada data, the 2019 report card is being released in this preliminary summary form in January 2020.
Additional data will be published on this website in the Spring of 2020.
Click here to download the 2019 BC Child Poverty Report Card – Summary Report
- 163,730 children and youth were living in poor households in 2017.
- 51,760 poor children were under the age of six.
- Overall, BC had the 8th highest child poverty rate out of all the provinces and territories.
- BC child poverty rate at 19.1% was slightly higher than the national child poverty rate of 18.6%.
- The poverty rate for children living in lone-parent families is 51.4%.
For the first time since 2009, the number of poor children in lone-parent families increased, from 81,960 in 2016 to 86,690 in 2017.
Indigenous children, new immigrant children, children in visible or racialized minority groups and those with disabilities all have much higher poverty rates than the BC average.
The gender inequality gap persisted with the median income for female lone parent households at $44,960, just 72% of the $62,550 median income for male lone parent households.
While there are poor children growing up in all areas of BC, poverty rates are varied from 15.3% in the East Kootenay Regional District to 42.5% in the Central Coast Regional District. Many of the regional districts with the highest child poverty rates were located in coastal areas, particularly along the north and central coastal areas.
First Call’s recommendations to government include better income supports and universal programs like affordable housing and child care investments; targeting efforts to help those who have a higher risk of living in poverty; moving more quickly to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour; and significantly raising income and disability assistance rates to bring them in line with actual living expenses and index them to inflation.
In the meantime:
Check out our 2019 report card website www.still1in5.ca
1. Email the premier
Send an email to Premier Horgan asking him 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 ways you can take to urge government to act on poverty in our province, and everything you need to know to participate in the ongoing poverty reduction strategy consultations.
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 upcoming 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 2017 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
“We depend on several reports, including First Call’s annual Child Poverty Report to provide accurate, up-to-date information to our congregation. Thank you First Call, for 20 years of hard, dedicated work advocating for BC children and their families.”
– Joanna Rainer, Vernon (May 2017)