From 2002 to 2009, British Columbia had the highest child poverty rates in the country. It was an unenviable achievement, only taken away from us when Manitoba’s rates surpassed ours in 2010. Yet children are never poor: their parents are. The number of kids living in poverty is a direct result of the number of adults living in poverty. It is perhaps no surprise then that according to Statistics Canada poverty rates for all age groups in British Columbia remained the highest for the country in 2010, for the 12th year in a row.
That poverty in a so-called “have” province like B.C. could surpass poverty in much poorer, “have not” provinces, for so long is upsetting. It begins to make sense, however, when you consider B.C.’s other distinction: one of only two remaining provinces or territories in Canada without a province-wide poverty reduction strategy or a plan to create one.
Beyond the moral cost of poverty, realized in the suffering of those making too little money to support themselves or their families, poverty costs the people of British Columbia money. Whether it is increasing costs for healthcare, child welfare services, or the criminal justice system, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) put the annual cost of poverty to B.C. as high as $9.2 billion in 2011.
Over 2012, Tyee Solutions Society education and youth reporter Katie Hyslop investigated how the B.C. government has addressed poverty issue, and explored suggested alternative strategies to reduce poverty in the province. Her stories included: reporting on the B.C. government’s local poverty plans intended to address poverty on a community basis; the benefits and drawbacks of three different wage policies aimed at reducing poverty; and the provincial government’s attempts to clean up child welfare services as they related to children in care, the majority of whom are Aboriginal, typically come from impoverished backgrounds
Download the complete series here: A Living for All