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Perceived need for social services skewed towards youth, seniors: poll

The majority of British Columbians don't feel social services are as important for aboriginal people and immigrants as they are for other groups in need, according to a new poll.

When asked how important social services were for specific communities, only 33 per cent thought they were important for aboriginal peoples and 23 per cent thought they were important for immigrants and refugees.

Both categories were the lowest ranked in a list of nine, which included youth, seniors, and people with disabilities and special needs, among others.

Similarly, when asked about the importance and performance of community-based organization's delivery of social services, the only two communities that fell into the "not at all important" category were aboriginal people and immigrants and refugees.

Every other community made it into the "very important" category.

The poll was funded by a roundtable of provincial social services organizations. Roundtable member Tim Agg said that this finding concerned them.

Agg notes that it was consistent with the a similar poll conducted in 2000. In his opinion it indicates the extent to which people in B.C. don't have first-hand experience with aboriginal and immigrant issues.

According to the 2011 Stats Canada census, more than a quarter of the population of British Columbia reported a non-official language as their mother tongue (that means it was neither English or French). That number is seven per cent higher than the national average.

Agg added that another explanation for why these issues ranked so low in the poll was because the federal government plays a much larger role in funding aboriginal and immigrant services than the province.

However, according to the poll, fewer people oppose paying more taxes to provide improved services.

The 2000 poll showed that 29 per cent of the population "strongly opposed" paying more taxes, this year only 18 per cent opposed it.

The almost 10 per cent difference was divided between the other categories, including those who support and those who don't know.

Aurora Tejeida is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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