Nearly one in six children in Alberta live in low-income families and the number doesn’t get much better as you go further north.
The child poverty rate in the province is 15.9%. Meanwhile, Lloydminster’s child poverty rate is 7.7%, and though still below the provincial average, Cold Lake’s rate is 13.7%. However, these numbers are based on 2013 stats which don’t account for the current downturn.
Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta Joel French says child poverty is preventable and often the result of government policies.
“Our history with minimum wage is one actually, and we’re thankful that the new government is taking a different approach to that. Under the PC government previously, their last increase they made to the minimum wage was a mere 25 cents in 2014.”
The lowest rate is in the province for a municipality of its size goes to Wood Buffalo, with a child poverty rate of 10.2%.
French also praises the the NDP government for the creation of the Child Tax Benefit and for raising the minimum wage, but says more needs to be done. He wants to start a conversation about increasing income tax or adding a sales tax so everything is not so reliant on oil revenues.
“Having a conversation about taxes isn’t the most comfortable one, but if we want to talk about improving the quality of our education, improving our health care system, and social supports for vulnerable communities, then we need to talk about how we can get more revenue to be able to pay for those.”
A family is considered to be poor if their income is less than half of the median income for their community. Almost one in six children in Alberta live in poverty.