B.C. Liberals fail children living in poverty, abandon poverty reduction pilot projects, says NDP

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THE B.C. Liberals have failed to address child and family poverty by abandoning a series of child poverty reduction pilot projects and failing to implement a province-wide poverty reduction strategy in their place, say New Democrats.

“The child poverty report card from First Call B.C. reminds us that despite another year passing, the Liberal government has failed to take action to effectively address issues related to child and family poverty,” said New Democrat Children and Families Critic Carole James.

“Instead of following the lead of Canada’s other provinces and territories and implementing a poverty-reduction plan, the government chose to implement a piecemeal pilot project that ended up serving only 72 families when 153,000 kids are living in poverty in B.C.,” said James.  “These pilot projects weren’t effective to begin with, but instead of admitting to their mistakes and creating a more comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, the B.C. Liberals recently canceled the projects without saying what, if anything, will replace them.”

James noted under the B.C. Liberals, British Columbia has had the highest rates of child poverty for nine of the last ten years and that instead of taking real action on child poverty, the governments’ only response was to develop a series of pilot projects in seven communities across B.C.

“Children do not experience poverty alone – these are entire families living in poverty. Rather than listen to advocates, health professionals and community leaders’ calls to reduce poverty, the Liberal government has perpetuated the problem and allowed our province to once again have the highest rate of child poverty and overall poverty in the country,” said New Democrat Social Development Critic Michelle Mungall.

First Call B.C.’s 2013 Child Report Card was released Tuesday. The report highlights the dire situation facing many B.C. families and shows that British Columbia once again ranks number one for highest rates of child poverty in Canada. The report also shows that the province’s youngest children are often the most negatively affected, with more than 20 per cent of children under the age of six currently living in poverty.

“This has been a decade-long failure by the B.C. Liberals and as result, children and families continue to be caught in an often unbreakable cycle of poverty,” said Mungall.