A B.C. children's advocacy group says the provincial government is failing the province's youngest and poorest residents, with one of every five children living in poverty.

In a report published Tuesday, the First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition makes 21 recommendations to help reduce the child poverty rate to seven per cent or less by 2020 — including raising the minimum wage and welfare rates and adopting a $10-per-day childcare plan.                   

"It's neglect to allow thousands of children to languish in poverty in this province when we know what would help and what will help," said Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator for First Call.

Vulnerable groups

Poverty for children is especially dire in urban regions, with half of all B.C. youngsters in poverty living in Metro Vancouver, according to First Call's report. However, children in rural regions are in trouble too. The report says more than one in two children on B.C.'s Central Coast live in poverty.

Single-parent families are also at a much greater risk of poverty, with 50.3 per cent of children from those families living in poverty, while only 13 per cent of children from two-parent families live in poverty, the report says.

Little improvement

The percentage of B.C. children living in poverty has barely changed since last year's report from the same group. That report found 20.6 per cent of B.C. children in 2012 were living in poverty. In the report released Tuesday using 2013 data, First Call found that number to be 20.4 per cent.

Adrienne Montani First Call

More needs to be done to help B.C. children living in poverty, the provincial coordinator for First Call, Adrienne Montani, said Tuesday at a news conference. (CBC)

"[The change] is so minute it's hard to measure. We're still talking about thousands of children in poverty in this province," said Montani.

The national poverty rate for children according to the report is 19 per cent.

Montani says she wants to see the provincial government work on the issue of child poverty with a sense of urgency.

"I really don't understand why B.C. is the last province in the country not to have a provincial poverty plan."

Measuring poverty

First Call uses Statistics Canada's measurement of poverty in its report. Here is a breakdown of the poverty line for each family, which relies on the amount of annual after-tax income, and the number of parents and children.

  • One adult with one child: $24,319
  • One adult with two children: $29,531
  • One adult with three children: $33,005
  • Two adults with one child: $29,531
  • Two adults with two children: $34,742
  • Two adults with three children: $39,953

To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: 1 in 5 B.C. children are poor.

With files from Canadian Press and Wanyee Li