Education needed to break child poverty cycle, says Saint John mother
Saint John has over 1,800 single-parent families living in poverty
The child poverty rate in Saint John is stuck at a shocking 29 per cent, the highest in the country, according to a report released Wednesday.
The report, based on Statistics Canada's After-Tax Low-Income Measure, showed Saint John is tied with Toronto for the highest child poverty rates.
It also showed that Saint John has over 1,800 single-parent families living in poverty.
Andrea Richards, and her son subsist on welfare in social housing in Saint John. Richards says she's hampered by an old unpaid bill and its lasting effect on her credit.
She says education would make all the difference.
“I would have loved to have gone to some budgeting seminars, some how to shop properly, what food was good for you,” she said.
Just little things that need to change to bring this community together and make people feel like they're being cared for- Andrea Richards
In 2009, then premier Shawn Graham invited the political and business elites to reach for a solution.
Richards attended last year's round table discussion and came up with ideas like offering bus tokens to people leaving food banks with groceries, especially in the winter.
“Just little things that need to change to bring this community together and make people feel like they're being cared for,” said Richards.
Executive director of Saint John’s Human Development Council Randy Hatfield says the province is now engaged in its second poverty reduction plan.
“Despite the fact that we've had an engaged business community and despite the fact that we've had a provincial poverty reduction strategy, we've been unable to move the needle on child poverty in Saint John,” he said.
Coordinator of the Vibrant Communities organization Barry Galloway says resources need to be directed toward children in five city neighbourhoods.
“We're at 40.5 per cent of the low income individuals in our community living in poverty if they're a single mom,” said Galloway.
The city has made significant progress in efforts to reduce the overall poverty rate, which has fallen to about 19 per cent, down from 28 per cent a decade ago.
But Richards says there is still plenty of room for improvement.