According to a new report, 6,260 children are in poverty in the Lloydminster and Battlefords area.
Campaign 2000 has released its 2018 report on child poverty rates, ages zero to 17, that shows data from the 2016 Census in each federal riding. The report finds that out of the 338 federal ridings 162 are at or above the national average of 17.4 per cent. On the Saskatchewan side of Lloydminster and the Battlefords the poverty rate is 30.4 per cent.
The City has several non-profit organizations that deal with people in low-income situations, such as the Olive Tree. Executive Director Becky Schille says they deal mostly with families, but support children through the school divisions in the City.
“We provide food items towards there breakfast and lunch programs for children that might find themselves in need of a lunch or a breakfast while they’re at school.”
Schille adds that they also support people through their thrift store, free community meals, as well as emergency hampers by referrals. The Olive Tree can also refer individuals to another agency in town that is more specific to their needs.
Manager of Social Programs and Services Patrick Lancaster says the City has a limited role in providing resources, however, does make aware the services available in the community and can also refer people if needed.
“I do feel that poverty is a serious issue. It actually affects about 9 per cent of Lloydminster residents and it can have a negative impact on the health and quality of life of families, children and individuals.”
Lancaster adds that child poverty in the City sits at 13.7 per cent.
In the report, the Manitoba riding Churchill–Keewatinook Aski has the highest rate of poverty with 64.2 per cent. The 2016 Census shows that people living in the ridings with the highest poverty rates are immigrants and visible minorities.
Schille says what she has found is that poverty isn’t the issue, it’s mental health.
“Typically the issue is mental health issues or addiction issues. I think that in order to make a big impact in the community that we serve, we have to start realizing that those are the underlying issues for most of the problems and attacking that and coming up with a plan to deal with that.”
The City has started working on a five-year plan to improve social needs of people in the community, including increasing mental health resources.
“In some of the things that we’re looking into in the future is some ways to remove financial barriers to recreation and we also want to further increase awareness of the community supports that are available in Lloydminster,” says Lancaster.