2018 BC Child Poverty Report Card

Media Release November 20, 2018

First Call’s Annual 2018 Child Poverty Report Card Finds One in Five Children Still Poor

(Vancouver BC) Today, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition released its annual BC Child Poverty Report Card finding that not much has changed for poor children and their families. In 2016, the year this report covers, there were 172,550 children and youth living in poor households with many living in deep poverty.

“First Call has been tracking child and family poverty rates for over two decades,” commented Adrienne Montani, First Call’s Provincial Coordinator. “It’s profoundly disappointing to report again that one in five children in BC still lives in poverty.”

In 2016:

  • Some groups of children have poverty rates even higher than the provincial rate of 20.3%. Indigenous children, new immigrant children and children in visible or racialized minority groups all have much higher poverty rates than the BC average.
  • Half of BC’s children in lone-parent families were poor, over four times the rate for their counterparts in couple families.
  • Eighty-two per cent of lone-parent families were female-led, with median annual incomes that were just sixty-nine per cent of male lone-parent families.
  • The median annual income for a low-income single parent with one child was just under $18,000 – over $11,000 below the poverty line.
  • For a family of four, the gap between income and the poverty line was almost $13,000.
  • The data also tells us that most poor children live in a household where one or more parents are working.
  • Just over 36,000 dependent children lived in households receiving social assistance, an assurance that they were living in deep poverty.

Over the past few years both federal and provincial governments have taken steps in the right direction. The data indicates that a more generous federal Canada Child Benefit, implemented for six months of 2016, helped increase the number of children kept out of poverty.

“Persistently high levels of child poverty reflect the continued growth of income inequality,” observed Montani, “Governments at all levels need to meaningfully address the growth of precarious work and stagnating wages as families face soaring costs for essential living expenses.”

First Call will be looking closely at the provincial government’s 2019 budget for strategies that will support poverty reduction targets and timelines set out in the new Poverty Reduction Strategy Act.

First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition is a non-partisan coalition of over 100 provincial and regional organizations who have united their voices to put children and youth first in BC through public education, community mobilization, and public policy advocacy.

The 2018 BC Child Poverty Report Card, maps and other materials are posted here:


For more information or interviews, please contact Helesia Luke, Communications Coordinator | desk: 604-709-6970 | cell: 778-858-0553