There are 840 children living in poverty in Williams Lake says the 2016 report card on child poverty in the province released by FirstCallBC.
At 22.1 per cent, Williams Lake’s child poverty rate is higher than the national average, but down from the year before when it was 24.3 per cent, said Adrienne Montani of FirstCallBC.
Within the Cariboo-Chilcotin, the total is 23.7 per cent of children living in poverty, again a slight reduction from 25.2 per cent last year, but still higher than the provincial average which is one in five or 19.8 per cent.
Montani released the reports on Nov. 24 each year to mark the anniversary of when the federal government passed a resolution in 1989 to eliminate child poverty in Canada by the year 2000.
“We really think the government should be producing this report, but they don’t so we do in hopes the government will develop an overall poverty reduction plan,” Montani said.
The data shows that it is Indigenous children, new immigrants, children with disabilities and of lone parent families who are the poorest.
Some government initiatives have helped though, she added.
In 2014, 60,890 children were lifted out of poverty because of the increase to the child tax credit.
“We would have gone up to 29 per cent of children living in poverty in B.C. without that measure,” she said.
With the income inequality gap continuing to grow with the top 10 per cent of people earning the most money at a 13 to one ratio over those at the bottom, Montani said the tax system has to change.
“There is no shortage of wealth in B.C., the problem is the fact we continue to allow people to pay low wages.”
She also pointed to child benefit rate in B.C. compared to other provinces. If people qualify it is $55 in B.C., $110 in Ontario and three times as high as B.C. in Quebec.
In B.C. the benefit is only for children up to age five, whereas in other jurisdictions it goes until age 18.
“Besides, the welfare rates have not increased since 2007. It’s unreal,” she added.