In response to the provincial government’s efforts to explain away child poverty stats, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition (which produces the annual BC child poverty report card) has started to produce monthly fact sheets to set the record straight.
The report includes a startling finding — not only does BC have the highest child poverty rate, our province has also realized the least progress since the House of Commons’ ill-fated 1989 resolution to end child poverty. Make that negative progress. While most provinces saw a drop in their child poverty rate between 1989 and 2007, only Ontario and BC saw the situation worsen, with BC experiencing the largest increase (of 30%).
Here are the details:
Let’s take a longer-term view of the child poverty statistics and compare poverty rates twenty years ago in 1989 and in 2007. The year 1989 was the best year of the 1980s for the economy, and the national child poverty rate was 15.3 percent. It was also the year that the House of Commons voted unanimously to work to end child poverty by the year 2000.
Canada never got anywhere near that goal. In fact, the national child poverty rate in 2007 was 15 percent. The year 2007, like 1989, came at the end of a long cycle of economic growth prior to the current recession.
The table shows the poverty rates for Canada and each of the provinces in 1989 and 2007.
CHILD POVERTY RATES IN 1989 AND 2007,
CANADA AND ALL PROVINCES
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland and Labrador
Source: Statistics Canada, Income Trends in Canada 1976 to 2007
(Low Income Cut-Offs Before Taxes)
Eight provinces reported declines in the child poverty rate in this 20 year period, some of which were dramatic. British Columbia and Ontario were the only provinces that did worse over this time period, with BC the worst by far. Together, child poverty in these two provinces kept the national child poverty rate from falling significantly.
The provincial government of Ontario recently passed anti-poverty legislation with the unanimous support of the legislature that seeks to reduce the child poverty rate by 25 percent over five years.