B.C. child poverty declining but still worst
The child poverty rate in B.C. is down according to the latest available figures, but the province still has the worst child poverty rate in the country.
The rate dropped to 14.5 per cent in 2008, according to the latest figures published by Statistics Canada. That's down from 18.8 per cent in 2007.
"This is the seventh year in a row that B.C. has been the worst of all provinces," said Adrienne Montani, of First Call, the organization that prepared the 2010 Child Poverty Report.
The figures mean that, 121,000 B.C. children — one in seven — lived under the poverty line in 2008.
The poverty rate is even worse for children under age six, at 19.6 per cent or one in five children in that group.
Montani said 2008 could have the lowest poverty figures of the decade.
"The recession that started in late 2008 is almost certain to produce higher poverty figures in 2009 and 2010," she said in a release. "Indicators, such as increases in 2009 and 2010 in food bank use and families on income assistance, signal this anticipated rise."
The province needs to look at wages, welfare rates, access to higher education and acknowledge there is a problem, Montani said.
"From a government perspective, it has been saying, 'Look, it's coming down, we don't really have a problem. The best solution is a strong economy.'"
The province is taking a positive outlook on the statistics, which show the B.C. child poverty picture is improving, said Minister of Children and Family Development, Mary Polak.
"We've seen a consistent rate of decline in our child poverty rate," Polak told CBC News in responding to the report. "I think that's due to a lot of targeted investments we've made."
Polak also agreed there is clearly room for improvement in the situation.
With files from the CBC's Ben Hadaway