Nanaimo’s child poverty rate rose to 24.6 per cent in 2016 says report

The 2017 State of the Child report was released Friday

One in four children are living in poverty in Nanaimo.

The Greater Nanaimo Early Years Partnership released its third State of the Child report Friday, Nov. 17, which pulls together statistics to paint a picture of childrens’ well-being in the region.

It shows that while family income in this city has increased by 14.8 per cent since 2011, poverty among children is also growing. It’s gone from 18.6 per cent in 2006, to 20.9 per cent in 2011 and 24.6 per cent last year.

Poverty overall is consistent at 17.3 per cent.

Also noted in the report is that 15 of every 1,000 children, newborn to 18 years old, were living in care as of 2016, decreasing “only slightly” since 2014, and 35 of every 1,000 children were reported to be in need of protection in 2014; rates that are 75-85 per cent higher than B.C. rates.

It also shows immunization rates are up, going from 61 per cent in 2014 to 72.2 per cent. Ninety-one per cent of Grade 3/4 students reported usually eating or drinking healthier foods or beverages, which is consistent with previous years.

Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP, spoke during the launch of the report, which happened at a healthy start fair at Fairview Community School on Friday.

“This is kind of a sad day. We are noting once again child poverty in our region is growing and it should not,” Malcolmson said.

A success she did note is that there is almost nine per cent more licensed childcare spaces in Nanaimo, which she called a “fantastic direction and something that’s at the foundation of children’s well-being, women’s economic well-being and family economic prosperity.

“We know so many people that are paying more for childcare than they are for rent, that’s not sustainable,” said Malcolmson, who said she’s pushing hard at the federal level for universal, affordable childcare.

Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog said its known that many people are falling behind and as families fall behind it’s the children who suffer and that’s what the report indicates.

“We have a long ways to go,” he said.

Look for more on the report next week.

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