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B.C. child poverty is down, but recession numbers still to come

Child poverty in B.C. dropped by 4.3 per cent from 2007 to 2008, possibly the lowest number in the decade, but child advocates warn the future looks dark for the province’s most vulnerable families.

First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, together with the Social Planning and Research Council of BC, released their 2010 Child Poverty Report Card today revealing 14.5 per cent of B.C. children are living below the poverty line—roughly 121,000 or one in seven kids. The number is even higher for kids under six, who have a poverty rate of 19.6 per cent, or one in five.

The Report dismisses the notion that families living in poverty aren’t working, claiming the majority of children living in poverty has at least one parent earning income from work, while one-third of families have at least one person with a full-time paid position. Single mothers remain at the greatest risk of poverty, with a 31 per cent poverty rate.

“Child and family poverty simply won’t disappear on its own,” says Adrienne Montani, First Call’s provincial coordinator, in a press release. “Political leaders in other provinces understand this, but in BC we are still waiting for courageous leadership on this issue.”

B.C. is one of three provinces without a poverty reduction strategy, and the Report Card calls for a reduction of child poverty to seven per cent in the next 10 years. But the press release indicates child advocates predict poverty will go up before it goes down, saying the recession in 2008-2009, along with an increase in food bank use show more families are struggling to make ends meet today than two years ago.

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