Remedial Lessons Needed to Raise BC’s Failing Grade on Child Poverty

Last week, First Call’s Annual Child Poverty Report Card gave BC another failing grade. It was discouraging to see that 119,000 of British Columbia’s children  continue to live in poverty.  This is true for children in a variety of family circumstances – with one or two parents, on income assistance and in full time, full year employment.

On a personal level, as a citizen and a mother, I find these statistics terribly depressing and frustrating for their persistence – because I know that each number represents a little person with their own story and hopes and dreams.  From the perspective of an organization that is primarily focused on reducing risk for chronic disease, the current rate of childhood poverty provides a grim outlook for future health outcomes.

Dr. John Millar of the Public Health Association of BC (PHABC) and representative on the BCAHL Coordinating Committee explains, “poverty robs children of their potential, and increases ill health. High rates of income inequality are known to produce higher levels of infant mortality, crime, mental illness, addictions, obesity, and lower levels of education and social mobility and trust. This is a recipe for a very sick society, unless we turn this around.”
It’s not like we don’t know what to do. First Call, The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, PHABC and BCAHL among others have all advocated for a Provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy with a number of specific actions.

If you are interested in learning more about the connections between poverty and health and what can be done to raise our grade, please join BCAHL for our upcoming webinar: Poverty Reduction as a Prescription for Health, Wednesday December 12th from 9:00 am to 10:30 am.

Rita Koutsodimos
Manager, Advocacy & Communications
December 2012

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