22.5% of NS children living in poverty: 2016 Child and Family Poverty Report Card

November 24, 2016

HALIFAX—While there was a slight decrease in child poverty nationally between 2013 and 2014, the child poverty rate in Nova Scotia remains stubbornly high, says the 2016 Nova Scotia Child and Family Poverty Report Card, released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS), in partnership with Campaign 2000.

According to the report card, Nova Scotia’s child poverty rate of 22.5% represents 37,450 children—or more than 1 in 5 children—living in poverty in 2014. Nova Scotia has the third-highest provincial child poverty rate, and the highest rate in Atlantic Canada.

“The child poverty rate in Nova Scotia is now 24.3% higher than it was in 1989—the year the promise to eradicate child poverty was made,” says Christine Saulnier, Director of CCPA-Nova Scotia. “If this report card had an actual grade it would be a failing one for our governments. While it will be a few more years before the data captures the impact of the new investment in the Canada Child Benefit, this year’s report card makes clear that unless our governments address the broader structures of inequality, we are not likely to see progress for our most vulnerable children in the province.”

The 2016 Report Card’s data revealed: 

  • Stark differences in child poverty rates by community;
    • Child poverty rates were still lowest in the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Halifax (18.8%) and highest in the Cape Breton CA where 1 in 3 children (32.8%) are living below the After-Tax (LIM)—up from 32.4% in last year’s report card.
    • Child poverty rates in smaller geographic areas range from as low as 5% in Hammonds Plains to as high as 75.6% in Eskasoni.
    • Six communities had child poverty rates over 30%--five in Cape Breton (Glace Bay, New Waterford, North Sydney, Sydney Mines, and Eskasoni) and the other in Yarmouth (41.8%).
  • Geographic community level data still masks disparities among people in those communities because of gender, race, or aboriginal identity, or for children with disabilities, and immigrant children;
    • The high poverty rates in the Eskasoni area highlights the urgent need to prevent, reduce and eradicate child and family poverty in Indigenous communities now.
  • Poverty rates varied depending on the family make-up;
    • For children under 6 in Nova Scotia, the child poverty rate was 27%, compared to 22.5% of all children.
    • For lone parents, 50.4% lived below the AT-LIM (24, 230 children) compared with 11.2% of children living in couple families (13, 230 children).

“The data raise critical questions, the answers to which contribute to a roadmap to eradicating poverty. Child poverty is family poverty, therefore, what impact does a lack of affordable childcare have on family income when childcare costs per month can equal the majority of earnings of minimum wage full time employment?” says the study’s author and sociology professor, Lesley Frank.

“The report card speaks volumes about the disparities faced by people living in rural Nova Scotia and our struggles as service providers to address their needs without sufficient public investment to create good jobs, to provide affordable housing, to ensure people have a safety net,” says Lisanne Turner, Women's Advocate and Support Worker at the Tri County Women’s Centre in Yarmouth

The report card is an important testament to the impact that public policy has. On the one hand, the data shows us that the child poverty rate in Nova Scotia would be 32.5% higher if not for the income supports provided by governments. On the other hand, children in families that depend on welfare are particularly vulnerable to poverty largely because total welfare incomes in Nova Scotia are well below the poverty line and have remained virtually flat since 1989.

“The depth of poverty facing these families highlights the need to support a comprehensive strategy to go much further than just reducing the burden of living in poverty, but to actually lift people out of it,” says Stella Lord, volunteer coordinator of the Community Society to End Poverty-NS.

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Download the full report: The 2016 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia: Another Year, No Improvement.

To arrange media interviews, contact Christine Saulnier, christine@policyalternatives.ca or 902-240-0926.

The Report Card uses the most recent data available, which is for 2014.The national report cards and other provincial cards are available at Campaign 2000’s website: www.campaign2000.ca.

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