(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

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

Snowfall in the Okanagan shatters records. (Contributed)
Snowfall in Okanagan breaks records dated back to 1899

Penticton has received over 10 cm today, surpassing the 8 cm record set in 1957

Your Columbia River Revelstoke candidates; Nicole Cherlet (NDP); Samson Boyer (Green) and Doug Clovechok (BC Liberal)
Candidates’ messages: Columbia River Revelstoke

The Bulletin offered each candidate in Columbia River Revelstoke space to hold forth on issues important to them and to voters.

Earth from Space.
Morning Start: It would only take one hour to drive to space

Your morning start for Friday, Oct. 23, 2020

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Thanks to efforts by a Kelowna shelter and Elections BC, anyone who wishes to can vote in the 2020 BC Provincial Election, even if they don’t have a fixed address. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Kelowna group ensures people experiencing homelessness can vote

Shelter supervisor says voting ‘a fundamental right’ even for those without a fixed address

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
Big White receives 21 cm of snow in 24 hours

Resort’s snow base 41 cm deep, one month until opening day

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The deer were allegedly shot within Princeton town limits, late at night. Black Press File Photo.
Armed man, in full camouflage, allegedly shoots deer in downtown Princeton

‘The list of charges goes on and on,’ said RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Most Read