(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

Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre returns to the stage in Port Theatre debut

Theatre group presents ‘2 Across,’ described as a ‘middle-aged romantic comedy’

Purebred breeders go for a walk in Nanaimo to show off their dogs

Purebred dog breeders sometimes get a bad rap, says event organizer

City reviewing plans for huge Sandstone project in south Nanaimo

Seacliff Properties says it’s been told to be ready for a public hearing this fall

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

COVID-19 isn’t cancelling this year’s Tour de Rock

Alumni riders will cycle relay sections in their own communities

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Nanaimo RCMP community policing needs a few good volunteers

Volunteers needed to help Nanaimo RCMP and city deliver crime prevention and safety programs

Protesters march in Nanaimo, calling for greater protection of forests and watersheds

March for the Forests happened downtown on Friday afternoon

Most Read