The 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card from the BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition (First Call) says 1 in 5 children across BC are living in poverty. That translates into 167,810 youth below the age of 18 province wide.
Locally, 21.7% of youth in the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako are in poverty.
First Call says the high cost of childcare is driving the rates of children living in poverty.
“That’s a huge barrier for people.” Provincial Coordinator Adrienne Montani says “People often don’t come back from maternity leave in those early years so they drop from a two income family down to one until the school system kicks in, because it’s too expensive.”
Montani added that poverty can have a huge impact on young children. “We know that the worst time to be poor is 0-6 when your brain is just developing, when you should have lots of good stimulation, nutrition and no stress.”
Although Montani acknowledged that the provincial numbers are improving at a “glacial rate”, she pointed out that things are going the wrong way for single parents. The report says over 50% of single parent homes are below the poverty line.
“For that segment, a lot of single parents are not able to find child care so they can’t work… or they are spending all their money on child care and are not able to earn enough to cover the costs of living.”
The median after-tax family income for poor lone-parent families with one child was $14,300, or $10,019 below the poverty line of $24,319 for the family type. The poverty gap for poor couple families with one child was even larger: their median after-tax family income of $17,680 was $11,851 below the poverty line of $29,531.
The report issued 21 recommendations from affordable child care, to a $15 an hour minimum wage, to reversing cuts to the Employment Insurance program.
Bulkley Nechako has the 2nd worst rate of child poverty in the province.