Canada ranks behind the average in a recent UNICEF survey of child poverty in rich nations. (CBC)

More than one in six children in Nova Scotia live in poverty, according to the latest report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, making it the fifth highest child poverty rate in Canada.

The most recent numbers show 17.3 per cent of children in the province still live below the poverty line. The group estimates that’s about 29,000 children or approximately the population of Sydney Mines, Yarmouth, Wolfville and Pictou combined.

The Nova Scotia director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, Christine Saulnier, said rates are still higher for children under six and for children who live in female lone-parent families. 

She also said many families with children are not able to rise out of poverty even if a parent finds full-time work. According to the report, 40 per cent of poor children in Nova Scotia lived with at least one full-time worker in 2011.

The Centre for Policy Alternative’s report recommends increasing the combined income of welfare payments and tax benefits so families can lift out of poverty. They also suggested affordable daycare.

Emergency shelters prepare for winter

Meanwhile, volunteers at St. Matthew's United Church in Halifax say tackling homeless and offering affordable housing needs to be on the agenda for Nova Scotia's new provincial government.

St. Matthew’s on Barrington Street  has 15 beds, but Val Johnson and Jeff Karabanow said it won’t be long before the emergency shelter beds will be full.

“We had people ringing the bell each night asking if we were open yet. So in a couple days we will be at max capacity. Most of the other shelters are at max capacity all throughout the year,” Karabanow said.

It’s a worry for Matthew Kelder who uses the shelter.

“Well it's cold," he said. "You get a little worried that you might not make enough money to get something hot to drink or warm up."