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Nearly Half of Recently Immigrated Kids in B.C. are Poor: Report

By Katya Slepian, Surrey Now |

Almost half of recently immigrated children in Canada live in poverty, says a new report from First Call BC.

The organization told reporters Tuesday that 45 per cent of people living in B.C. under 18 years old who had moved to Canada between 2011-2016 were poor.

First Call BC considers children of families making below Statistics Canada’s low-income measure to be living in poverty.

“We’re disappointed to report that the fundamental statistic remains the same,” said Scott Graham, SPAR BC associate executive director. “One in five children in B.C. live in poverty. That’s 153,300 children that go without in this province.”

Many of those kids were clustered in B.C.’s major downtown cores, with the worst being Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where three-quarters of the youth and children live in poverty.

Nanaimo, Kamloops, Prince George, Kelowna, Chilliwack and Abbotsford-Mission also had neighbourhoods with a child poverty rate above 40 per cent.

The report linked poor outcomes for immigrant children to the lack of employment assistance, language classes and barriers to requalification for professionals trained abroad.

Using data from the 2016 census, First Call BC found that child poverty rates for visible minorities, Indigenous kids and those living with other relatives were about 18 per cent across the board.

Georgia Brown, an Indigenous woman taking care of her two special needs grandchildren in Vancouver, spoke about her family’s growing struggle to just get by.

“The income assistance rates are so low that I personally have to juggle to try to feed just our family,” Brown said. “You can’t express to your children that you don’t have enough for the next week.”

Brown used to rely on several weekly community dinners when groceries ran low. But over the years, these programs have become overburdened and the situation has reached crisis levels.

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