Roughly 1 in 5 children live in poverty in the Thompson-Okanagan - InfoNews

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Roughly 1 in 5 children live in poverty in the Thompson-Okanagan

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
January 24, 2020 - 3:45 PM

Across the Thompson-Okanagan region, Central Okanagan children are faring slightly better than their neighbours.

First Call released its 23rd Annual Child Poverty Report Card, Jan. 14, detailing poverty levels for districts across B.C.

One in six Central Okanagan children are living in poverty. According to the report, there are 5,970 children (17 per cent), and 15 per cent of all Central Okanagan residents living in poverty in the district.

However, the Central Okanagan has a slightly lower percentage of children living in poverty compared with neighbouring regions.

In the Thompson-Nicola region, one in five children live in poverty with 20 per cent of children living below the poverty line. Seventeen per cent of all families live in poverty.

The North Okanagan is similar to the Thompson-Nicola, with one in five children (19 per cent) and 16 per cent of all residents living in poverty.

In the Okanagan-Similkameen, one in five children (21 per cent) and 18 per cent of all residents are living in poverty.

Poverty levels are the highest for children with single-parent families.

“Overall, B.C. had the eighth highest child poverty rate out of all the provinces and territories and was slightly higher than Canada’s child poverty rate of 18.6 per cent, according to the report. “At 19.1 per cent child poverty in B.C. was higher than the 18.4 per cent poverty rate for people of all ages.”

“Fifty-three per cent of poor children are living in lone-parent families and, for the first time since 2009, the number of poor children in lone-parent families increased, from 81,960 in 2016 to 86,690 in 2017. This is the first time we have seen children in lone-parent families make up over half of B.C.’s poor children,” according to the report.

The report also questions B.C's poverty reduction strategies with the NDP government and applauds the federal government's child benefit initiatives that begin in the fall of 2020.

"Both the Canadian and B.C. governments introduced poverty reduction strategies including legislated targets and timelines. While this is a good start, many of the initiatives have yet to be implemented and there are some important questions to be raised about whether they will continue to be a priority for the federal government in light of new cabinet priorities," the report said.

"While there has been an incremental reduction in family poverty in recent years attributable to market incomes, government transfers including the Child Opportunity Benefit and the Canada Child Benefit are critical to lifting children and their families out of poverty," the report said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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