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Child and family poverty rates are undiminished in Nova Scotia

On Nov. 24 filmmaker Nance Ackerman, right, expressed pride in Jennifer Justason and her son Isaiah, who were the subjects of her documentary on poverty Four Feet High.
On Nov. 24 filmmaker Nance Ackerman, right, expressed pride in Jennifer Justason and her son Isaiah, who were the subjects of her documentary on poverty Four Feet High.

KENTVILLE NS – As a society we are not doing any better by the poor. It’s been another year with no improvement in this province.

 

While there was a slight decrease in child poverty nationally between 2013 and 2014, the child poverty rate in Nova Scotia remains stubbornly high, according to the 2016 Nova Scotia Child and Family Poverty Report Card.

One in every four children in Kings County is still being marked by poverty.

The report card was written by long time author Dr. Lesley Frank, a sociology professor at Acadia University, and released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS), in partnership with Campaign 2000.

There are stark differences in child poverty rates by community and poverty rates vary by family config­uration, Frank discovered.

Child Poverty rates are higher for indigenous children, racialized children, and children with disabilities. The child poverty rate in Eskasoni, for example, points to the extremely high poverty rates among indigen­ous children in Canada.

Poverty is not just a measure of income however; she noted, it is social condition that is manifested in a multitude of ways in daily family life and is experienced by parents and children.

Child poverty rates mirror Canada’s weakening commitment to social welfare more broadly, Frank pointed out by looking at recent history, which was typified by a re­duction in social expenditures in the 1970s, a steady erosion of social pro­grams in the 1980s, and a persistent dismantling of Canada’s social wel­fare system from the 1990s onward.

Stark disparities of child poverty between communities are hidden when poverty rates are calculated for larger regions as a whole, so this year Frank set out some community rates.

 

Child Poverty Rate by Community:

Hammonds Plains - 5

Coldbrook - 11.3

Kentville - 25.8

Wolfville - 25.7

New Waterford - over 30

Yarmouth - 41.8

Eskasoni - 75.6

 

According to the report card, Nova Scotia’s child poverty rate of 22.5 per cent 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 per cent higher than it was in 1989 - the year the promise to eradicate child poverty was made,” said Christine Saulnier, who directs 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: child poverty rates were still lowest in the metropolitan Halifax (18.8 per cent) and highest in the Cape Breton.

Poverty rates varied depending on the family make-up and were higher for children under six in Nova Scotia, where the rate was 27 per cent, compared to 22.5 per cent of all children.

“The data raises 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 Frank.

 “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.

The 2016 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia: Another Year, No Improvement is available for download at www.policyalternatives.ca 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

 

Poverty is a problem we all share

 

NEW MINAS NS - The 2009 NFB film ‘Four Feet Up’ follows Jennifer Justason, her 10-year-old son Isaiah and their family through a year in a New Minas.

On Nov. 24, seven years later, as it screened in the village’s Millett Centre, heads were shaking. Isaiah is over six feet tall now and a solid student. His mother is proud of her minimum wage job, but nothing has changed about child and family poverty.

As Debra Reimer, who runs the Kids Action Program locally, told the audience assembled to watch the film “it’s as relevant today. Why? Because I’ve always felt poverty is a problem we all share.”

She added, “poverty is everywhere. It’s easy to ignore, you can not see it if you don’t want to.”

Filmmaker Nance Ackerman explained how she was asked by the NFB to make a documentary about poverty and how Reimer suggested Justason’s family.

“I’ve never seen a more loving family,” Ackerman said. “Jen always pushed education, marks, values. That was really important, but everything was stacked up against them.”

Belinda Manning, a board member with the Kids Action Program, invited a wide variety of local politicians to attend the two screenings and stated that the Kids Action Program has not had an increase in funding since 1997.

Those in attendance threw around ideas to reduce poverty levels, everything from a guaranteed livable wage to better social housing to more daycare spaces for working mothers.

 

 

While there was a slight decrease in child poverty nationally between 2013 and 2014, the child poverty rate in Nova Scotia remains stubbornly high, according to the 2016 Nova Scotia Child and Family Poverty Report Card.

One in every four children in Kings County is still being marked by poverty.

The report card was written by long time author Dr. Lesley Frank, a sociology professor at Acadia University, and released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS), in partnership with Campaign 2000.

There are stark differences in child poverty rates by community and poverty rates vary by family config­uration, Frank discovered.

Child Poverty rates are higher for indigenous children, racialized children, and children with disabilities. The child poverty rate in Eskasoni, for example, points to the extremely high poverty rates among indigen­ous children in Canada.

Poverty is not just a measure of income however; she noted, it is social condition that is manifested in a multitude of ways in daily family life and is experienced by parents and children.

Child poverty rates mirror Canada’s weakening commitment to social welfare more broadly, Frank pointed out by looking at recent history, which was typified by a re­duction in social expenditures in the 1970s, a steady erosion of social pro­grams in the 1980s, and a persistent dismantling of Canada’s social wel­fare system from the 1990s onward.

Stark disparities of child poverty between communities are hidden when poverty rates are calculated for larger regions as a whole, so this year Frank set out some community rates.

 

Child Poverty Rate by Community:

Hammonds Plains - 5

Coldbrook - 11.3

Kentville - 25.8

Wolfville - 25.7

New Waterford - over 30

Yarmouth - 41.8

Eskasoni - 75.6

 

According to the report card, Nova Scotia’s child poverty rate of 22.5 per cent 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 per cent higher than it was in 1989 - the year the promise to eradicate child poverty was made,” said Christine Saulnier, who directs 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: child poverty rates were still lowest in the metropolitan Halifax (18.8 per cent) and highest in the Cape Breton.

Poverty rates varied depending on the family make-up and were higher for children under six in Nova Scotia, where the rate was 27 per cent, compared to 22.5 per cent of all children.

“The data raises 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 Frank.

 “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.

The 2016 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia: Another Year, No Improvement is available for download at www.policyalternatives.ca 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

 

Poverty is a problem we all share

 

NEW MINAS NS - The 2009 NFB film ‘Four Feet Up’ follows Jennifer Justason, her 10-year-old son Isaiah and their family through a year in a New Minas.

On Nov. 24, seven years later, as it screened in the village’s Millett Centre, heads were shaking. Isaiah is over six feet tall now and a solid student. His mother is proud of her minimum wage job, but nothing has changed about child and family poverty.

As Debra Reimer, who runs the Kids Action Program locally, told the audience assembled to watch the film “it’s as relevant today. Why? Because I’ve always felt poverty is a problem we all share.”

She added, “poverty is everywhere. It’s easy to ignore, you can not see it if you don’t want to.”

Filmmaker Nance Ackerman explained how she was asked by the NFB to make a documentary about poverty and how Reimer suggested Justason’s family.

“I’ve never seen a more loving family,” Ackerman said. “Jen always pushed education, marks, values. That was really important, but everything was stacked up against them.”

Belinda Manning, a board member with the Kids Action Program, invited a wide variety of local politicians to attend the two screenings and stated that the Kids Action Program has not had an increase in funding since 1997.

Those in attendance threw around ideas to reduce poverty levels, everything from a guaranteed livable wage to better social housing to more daycare spaces for working mothers.

 

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