Thursday, June 16, 2011

Child Poverty in BC: Why is the Government Robbing Children of a Solid Future?

Poverty is the worst form of violence. ~Mohandas Gandhi

As the latest child poverty statistics from Statistics Canada and analysis from First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition come out, it is abundantly clear that our governments still don’t get it. The question that needs to be asked of elected officials is why are they robbing BC and Canadian children of a future filled with hope and promise? Why are they giving a significant number of children a future where they will continue to be faced with deprivation, more poverty and poor health outcomes?

In 2009 over 100,000 children in BC were living in poverty. This was a 12% increase in 2009, from 10.4% in 2008. BC's child poverty rate is still the highest in Canada for 8th year in a row. This is higher than the national average of 8.5%. BC also has the highest rate of poverty for all people in Canada.

These numbers and the diminished interest in and regard for children and youth`s rights to the best start in life can only lead to the conclusion that our provincial and federal governments do not care about our children. If they did, they would do the right thing and introduce the measures that have shown improvements in other Canadian provinces and jurisdictions around BC.

The BC poverty rate rose from 11.4 % in 2008 to 12 % in 2009, and the number of poor persons rose from 494,000 to 528,000.When did governments come to feel they can just disregard the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized?

Provincially, we have a new Premier who has been ramming her `Families First` slogan down our throat, but even children will tell you that it's action, not words which tell the real story and the truth. Children also know what is right and what is wrong.

This same Premier also adjourned the Legislature almost immediately upon the introduction of the Poverty Reduction Act as a Private Members Bill by NDP MLA Shane Simpson. Do the Premier and her cabinet mean what they say that Families are First?

Poor children, families and individuals deserve much, much more that media spin, sophistry and shell games.

Here are solutions that other jurisdictions have had success with to reduce poverty.

  • Increase income assistance and disability rates;
  • Invest in more affordable housing around BC and introduce rent controls in high cost, low vacancy areas;
  • Increase access to child care and early learning through child care subsidies and child care spaces;
  • Increase the minimum wage, based on living wage calculations;
  • Increase supports and incentives to low income parents to transition into the workforce and for employers to hire individuals;
  • Index welfare and disability rates to the cost of living;
  • Encourage employers around BC to provide living wages to employees with the realization that wages earned continue to local communities;
  • Approach child and family poverty as a non-partisan issue and pass the Poverty Reduction Act that was introduced into the Legislature;
  • Invest in strong community social services to support the increasing marginalized families and continue to strengthen ;
  • Promote and support individuals in accessing education and vocational programming and apprenticeship programs;
  • The federal government must improve the Employment Insurance system, making it more accessible to all workers;
  • Work with the federal government to ensure persons with temporary, or long-term disabilities can access employment insurance and CPP disability benefits;

Read more here:


First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition

Ignorance of homelessness isn't bliss: Poverty more widespread than most Canadians realize. Ish Theilheimer. June 14, 2011.

BC Still Worst in Country on Child Poverty: Advocate

Jonathon Fowlie, June 16, 2011, Vancouver Sun.

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