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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Columns: One In Seven Kids In BC Lives In Poverty

Columns: One In Seven Kids In BC Lives In Poverty

By David Murray. One in seven children or about 121,000 kids in British Columbia were found to be living in poverty in 2011. The poverty rate among British Columbia children aged six or lower was almost 20 percent. This shocking total means that one in five children in our province are not getting enough funding (support) to meet basic needs.
It is time for our BC Liberal government to put forward a child poverty reduction formula.
Christy Clark and her Liberal party have refused to commit themselves to fighting poverty. Almost every other province in Canada has adopted some sort of child poverty reduction plan.
Child and family poverty simply won’t disappear on their own. Not only is child poverty a big concern but lone-parent female family poverty rate stands at 31 percent.
Seven provinces and territories have either enacted or committed themselves to enacting anti-poverty strategies, and at least one other province is said to be ready to join the majority. The Federal NDP under Thomas Mulcair has recently issued reports urging Ottawa to commit to an anti-poverty strategy of its own.
Despite growing pressure from a wide variety of voices within the province for BC to follow suit, BC’s many are still looking for this kind of leadership. The Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberal government have regularly denied the severity of the problem,
and promised for over a year that a cross-ministry initiative will be coming soon.
Poverty has yet to become an issue in the prelude to the next provincial election. The NDP has called for the government to introduce a poverty reduction plan with targets and timelines.
I believe each of us has a role to play in working to reduce child poverty, but it is time that at both the federal and provincial level we get the kind of leadership and investment that can help make this happen. We must all understand that the window of opportunity for healthy development for each child is short and those growing up in poverty cannot be asked to wait any longer.
To reach this target we must start to see increases in the minimum wage, welfare rates and child tax benefits; enhanced employment insurance benefits and eligibility; universal access to high-quality, affordable child care; and improved access to post-secondary education for low-income students, as well as, most importantly, an affordable housing strategy.

David Murray is the editor of the Pitt Meadows Today

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