Peace Region among lowest child poverty rates in B.C.

Dawson Creek and Fort St. John have some of the lowest child poverty rates in the province, according to a recent report from a provincial non-profit. But one local advocate says those numbers can still be improved.

The 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card, released by the BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition late last month, reported about 12 per cent of children and teens in Fort St. John were living in poverty in 2013, amounting to about 780 people. It was the lowest across urban cities in B.C., according to the report.

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Amanda Trotter, the executive director of the Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society, noted those numbers have likely changed with current economic conditions, pointing to recent media stories about layoffs in the area. The society provides services to low-income families.

“I think (the number of children has) probably increased quite dramatically,” she said. “We’re seeing that, in terms of our own organization…the statistics right now are completely different.”

She also wasn't happy with the 2013 figure, either.

“In terms of Canada, with as much as wealth as you have, 12 per cent is outrageous to begin with,” she said.

“I don’t think we should be stopping until we have zero per cent poverty.”

While Dawson Creek had fewer children in poverty than Fort St. John, at 510 children, the percentage of its population was higher, at around 17 per cent.

On a percentage basis, Dawson Creek was behind Victoria and Squamish at 16 per cent, and tied with Kamloops, when compared with other cities outside of the Vancouver area.

In the Peace River Regional District, the number of children in poverty was pegged at 15.8 per cent.

It puts the PRRD as the region with the second lowest rate of child poverty in B.C. The East Kootenays Regional District had the lowest percentage at 15.5 per cent.

The PRRD, Dawson Creek, and Fort St. John were all below the provincial average of 20.4 per cent child poverty.

The cities of Port Alberni and Duncan had the highest percentage of children living in poverty outside of the Vancouver metropolitan area at 31 per cent.

The Vancouver metropolitan area had an average of about 20 per cent of children living in poverty.

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