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Child poverty numbers down but BC still last

VANCOUVER - Despite British Columbia ranking worst of any province for child poverty - for the sixth consecutive year - the number of poor children dropped significantly, according to Statistics Canada.

The problem, said one front line worker, is the difference never materialized on the street.

"I've never seen poverty drop," said Penny Irons, executive director of Vancouver Aboriginal Mother Centre Society. "I've only seen it increase."

An analysis of 2007 household income data released yesterday found the number of impoverished children dropped to 108,000 from 137,000 in 2006 - the lowest poverty rate since 1991.

Irons is concerned the study based on two-year-old numbers could offer a false sense of security while shocks from the economic downturn are being felt today.

"It certainly doesn't take a genius to figure out that the number of children living in poverty is increasing daily as their parents are laid off," she said.

The chairperson of First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, which published the study, agrees.

Julie Norton continues to press government to make child poverty a priority by setting hard targets for reduction.

Her concern is the provincial government won't champion causes for children because the tykes can't vote or pay taxes.

"It's a sad statement but the people with money have a lot more influence so they get what they want and we're not being responsible for all the citizens," Norton said.

Dharm Makwana reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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