BC has the worst poverty rate in Canada for 5th straight year

It’s too bad reports on how bad poverty is won’t end poverty.  If they would, 2 reports that came out last month  would help quite a bit.  As it is, if you need any word ammunition to fight against poverty, the latest 2008 Child Poverty Report Card and recommendations from the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) should help.

The 2008 Child Poverty Report Card says that BC has the highest poverty rate (16.1%) and child poverty rate (21.9%) of all the provinces for the 5th year in a row. Over half of the poor children in the province live in families where at least one person is working full time, so wages are dismally low.  Over half of all single parent mother led families are poor.  A couple with 2 children living on welfare is almost $21,000 a year BELOW the poverty line.  The poverty line (about $39,000 a year for a family of 4) would be untold riches to a family on welfare.

Some other interesting stats from the report:  Over 245,000 BC workers earn less than $10 an hour.  The average total income for the richest one tenth of one percent of families grew by almost a million dollars between 1982 and 2004 to about $2.5 million a year.  Meanwhile the average income for the poorest 10% of taxfilers in 2004 was $6000.  The income of the richest 10% grew while the income of the poorest and second poorest 10% fell.  You can find the report at http://www.campaign2000.ca/rc/rc08/BC_ReportCard08-colour.pdf

The Report Card says governments should increase minimum wage to almost $11 an hour, end the $6 an hour training wage, raise welfare to about $1300 a month for a single person, restore welfare earnings exemptions and stop clawing back child support payments, among other things.

The UN report says that the CEDAW committee is concerned that there is no federal accountability to ensure that there are minimum standards for social assistance funding. It calls on the Canadian government to establish those standards.  To find this report, check out  http://www.fafia-afai.org/en/research/cedaw

~Jean Swanson