Data in the 2016 BC Child Poverty Report Card, released November 24, 2016, by First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, highlights how growing income inequality among BC families has one in five of our children living in poverty, and how our failure to properly support youth as they leave foster care is putting many of them at risk of homelessness.
Using the most recent data, the report shows a very slight decrease in BC’s child poverty rate from 20.4% in 2013 to 19.8% in 2014. This small decline is reflected in the poverty rate for children in couple families from 13% to 12.4%.
However, there was no decrease in the shocking 50.3% poverty rate of children living in lone-parent families, the vast majority of which are single-mother families. Nearly half (49.4%) of BC’s poor children live in lone-parent families.
BC’s child poverty rate is higher than the Canadian average of 18.5%, and represents 163,260 children, larger than the population of Abbotsford, the province’s fourth largest city.
In addition to calling for a provincial poverty reduction plan, the 2016 report card makes 20 public policy recommendations that would help reduce the child poverty rate to 7% or less by 2020.
These recommendations include adopting the $10 a Day Child Care Plan; increasing and indexing the minimum wage, welfare rates and provincial child tax benefit; paying living wages; enhancing Employment Insurance benefits and eligibility; increasing affordable housing options for families; addressing poverty for First Nations and urban Aboriginal families; improving the affordability of post-secondary education; increasing supports for youth aging out of foster care; and enhancing universal health coverage.
Other key findings in the 2016 report include:
- BC’s child poverty rate of 19.8% is higher than the overall (all ages) poverty rate of 16%. Children under 6 have an even higher poverty rate of 20.1%.
- 17 out of 29 regional districts had child poverty rates higher than 20%. The Central Coast regional district had the highest rate at 51.9%.
- Over half (51%) of BC’s poor children lived in Metro Vancouver in 2014 (82,960 children).
- Contrary to popular belief, the majority of poor children have parents in paid work.
- Between 2007 and 2014 in Metro Vancouver, the 18% increase in family expenses vastly outpaced the 10% increase in family incomes, according to Living Wage for Families Campaign calculations. Child care costs alone rose by 35% and rent by 26%.