British Columbia

B.C. the worst in Canada for child poverty

British Columbia has the highest rate of child poverty in the country, a dubious distinction the province has won for five straight years.

British Columbia has the highest rate of child poverty in the country, a dubious distinction the province has won for five straight years.

According to the advocacy group First Call, which issued its annual Child Poverty Report Card on Friday morning, B.C.'s child poverty rate is 22 per cent, six per cent higher than the national average.

Based on 2006 statistics, the Vancouver-based organization said 181,000 children in B.C. are living below the poverty line.

Those numbers can cause disastrous results for the province's affected children, First Call's Adrienne Montani said, including "school failure, doing poorly in school or dropping out early, poor health, life-long consequences for their health. It means they may become vulnerable to justice system involvement, especially as they hit their teens."

Low wages and low welfare rates are to blame for pushing parents and their children into poverty, Montani said.

She also argued the province spends less on child-care and housing subsidies than other provinces.

NDP health critic Adrian Dix blamed the government of Premier Gordon Campbell.

"You'll remember the largest cut in the first round of Campbell cuts was the Ministry of Children and Family Development. They got rid of the children's commission, the child advocate."

With the current economic downturn, B.C.'s child poverty figures will only get worse, First Call cautioned.

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