(Black Press files)

Nearly half of recently immigrated kids in B.C. are poor: report

A new study suggests immigrant children make up a large percentage of B.C.’s impoverished

Almost half of recently immigrated children in Canada live in poverty, says a new report from First Call BC.

The organization told reporters Tuesday that 45 per cent of people living in B.C. under 18 years old who had moved to Canada between 2011-2016 were poor.

First Call BC considers children of families making below Statistics Canada’s low-income measure to be living in poverty.

“We’re disappointed to report that the fundamental statistic remains the same,” said Scott Graham, SPAR BC associate executive director. “One in five children in B.C. live in poverty. That’s 153,300 children that go without in this province.”

READ: B.C. government poverty strategy tour set to begin

Many of those kids were clustered in B.C.’s major downtown cores, with the worst being Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where three-quarters of the youth and children live in poverty.

Nanaimo, Kamloops, Prince George, Kelowna, Chilliwack and Abbotsford-Mission also had neighbourhoods with a child poverty rate above 40 per cent.

The report linked poor outcomes for immigrant children to the lack of employment assistance, language classes and barriers to requalification for professionals trained abroad.

Using data from the 2016 census, First Call BC found that child poverty rates for visible minorities, Indigenous kids and those living with other relatives were about 18 per cent across the board.

Georgia Brown, an Indigenous woman taking care of her two special needs grandchildren in Vancouver, spoke about her family’s growing struggle to just get by.

“The income assistance rates are so low that I personally have to juggle to try to feed just our family,” Brown said. “You can’t express to your children that you don’t have enough for the next week.”

Brown used to rely on several weekly community dinners when groceries ran low. But over the years, these programs have become overburdened and the situation has reached crisis levels.

“At times, I’m finding myself just having coffee and toast and just make sure that all the children are fed,” said Brown. “Life in the city, raising grandchildren can be quite challenging. We would just like enough money to buy food for our family.”

WATCH: Georgia Brown tells her story

About 39 per cent of children in B.C. who live with non-parent relatives are poor, while virtually all of the 550 children living alone are poor as well.

One in three Indigenous youth live below the poverty line, the report also found, saying that did not include children on reserves.

The poverty rate for children on the Soowahlie 14 First Nations Reserve near Chilliwack in particular sits at 80 per cent. Similarly high rates on other reserves lead researchers to believe the true poverty rate for Indigenous children is much higher than one-third.

“We’re dealing with an undercount,” Graham said.

First Call urged the government to increase funding for First Nations children and community health services, and to implement a poverty-reduction strategy focused on Indigenous kids.

For the past 15 years, half of the children living in single-parent, often female-led, families have been poor. This year was no different, with 48 per cent of kids in single-parent families living in poverty.

The median after-tax take-home income for a single-parent family living in poverty is $15,470— $10,000 below the low-income cutoff.

Single-parent families, as well as other low-income families, struggle to afford childcare.

First Call called on the B.C. government to introduce $10-a-day childcare, an NDP campaign promise, as well as make childcare free for families earning less than $40,000 per year.

The NDP had made $10-a-day childcare a central campaign promise during the 2017 election.

However, the initiative was left out of their fall budget update and has caused division with the BC Greens.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge neighbourhood rallies together for Saturday garage sale

Event aimed to bring Albion residents together – but not too close – while the financially strapped

Farmers market returns to downtown Maple Ridge

Next Saturday, July 18 people can shop at the newly reconfigured market in Memorial Peace Park

Ridge Meadows RCMP catch three more impaired drivers overnight

Local Mounties served 80 impaired driving infractions in June

Cocooning pays dividends for local environmental group

A butterfly adoption program helps keep the Alouette River Management Society in Maple Ridge afloat

Maple Ridge redirects $225,000 from RCMP to community safety needs

A new manager and two community safety officers join a team patrolling the city’s downtown streets

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Conservatives say police should be called into investigate WE charity scandal

Trudeau is already under investigation by the ethics commissioner for potential conflict of interest

Most Read