Povery still sucks

Good news for those who are suffering below the poverty line — turns out, some of your friends managed to get better jobs...

Good news for those who are suffering below the poverty line — turns out, some of your friends managed to get better jobs, or leave the province, or, well . . . err, died.

The latest Statistics Canada report (shh, don’t tell anyone that it takes this stellar organization two years to compile their numbers, which means they are totally useless when they arrive) that everyone loves to twist to fit their own agenda is out and B.C. has clawed itself out of the gutter to post impressive child poverty  results. Turns out, the number of children living below poverty in our province dropped from 11.8 per cent in 2009 to 10.5 per cent in 2010.

That means, wait for it, we’re no longer the worst province in Canada. Take that, Manitoba — we’re No. 2 . . . well, actually, number two from the bottom, but still, hey, for eight consecutive years we held the loser’s crown of being the worst. In 2010, we only had 87,000 children struggling to get by, which is just slightly more than the entire population of the city of Victoria.

But wait, there’s more.

The poverty rate for people of all ages in B.C. also fell slightly from 12 per cent in 2009 to 11.5 per cent in 2010. But, sorry, don’t cheer too loud, it was still the worst poverty rate in Canada, which means we earn that loser’s tinfoil crown for the 12th consecutive year.

StatsCan uses the following figures to determine poverty: a family of four in a city of 500,000 or more, earning $35,469 or less; a single parent with one child, earning $22,831 or less in a large city. In 2010, a parent working full-time at B.C.’s $8-per-hour minimum wage would have earned $15,600, or $7,231 below the poverty line.

Naturally, not everyone is celebrating (especially if they can’t afford the paper hats and sparkling apple juice.) Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator of First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, for example, says these results show, “the need for a comprehensive anti-poverty program in British Columbia, supported by every political party. Poverty is costing children their health and limiting their ability to reach their full potential.”

While I agree with Montani in spirit — how can you not? — I worry about the pressure that B.C. taxpayers are continually coming under as earning more money doesn’t necessary equate to having any extra to give back. Poverty, social assistance and addiction support should be a national burden rather than a provincial one. One of the main reasons that we tend to have a larger percentage of poor, homeless and addicts has more to do with our mild climate than any great failing of our province. We need to look at all Canadians as a national pool with resources and funding divided where it’s needed most.

This shouldn’t be B.C.’s burden to carry alone. M

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