Surrey has the highest number of children living in poverty than any other jurisdiction in Metro Vancouver, according to a report released Thursday.
The 2016 B.C. Child Poverty Report Card reveals that 23,480 children live in poverty in Surrey. That’s a child poverty rate of approximately 21 per cent, higher than the national average of 18.5 and provincial average of 19.8 per cent.
The report also notes that the Guildford, Newton and Whalley areas of Surrey have the most children living in poverty in the region.
Vancouver came in second in terms of number of poor children (17,360), followed by Burnaby (8,240), Richmond (8,090), Coquitlam (5,490) and Langley Township (3,250).
Across the province, one out of five children are living in poverty, according to the report.
“A city composed only of B.C.’s poor children would have had 163,260 residents and been the fifth-largest city in B.C. in 2014,” it continues.
The report, produced annually by child and youth advocacy group First Call B.C., uses Statistics Canada’s low-income measure (LIM) from 2014 as Canada does not have an official poverty line. Newer figures from Statistics Canada are not yet available.
The child poverty report card advocates for measures to reduce the rate, including for a $15 an hour minimum wage, a living wage for all employees (calculated at 20.4 per cent for Metro Vancouver) and a redesign of the B.C. Early Childhood Tax Benefit into a B.C. Child Benefit that covers children up until 18 years of age at double the rate.
The child poverty rate in B.C. has dropped 0.6 per cent since last year’s report, which used 2013 figures. However, according to First Call B.C., the rate rose from 15.5 per cent in 1989 to 25.3 per cent in 2000, before dropping down to 2014’s 19.8 per cent.
-With files from Katya Slepian