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Child poverty rates drop below provincial average in Central Okanagan

High child poverty rates were clustered near downtown Kelowna in 2020
First Call Child and Youth Society report found 1 out of 8 children in B.C. and Canada were living in poverty in 2020. (Black Press file photo)

There was a slight decrease in the number of children living in poverty in the Central Okanagan in 2020 compared to 2019.

The BC Child Poverty Report Card, released last week, shows 4,490 children — 12.2 per cent of children 0-17 years old — in the Kelowna Central Metropolitan Area (CMA) living in poverty in 2020.

The Kelowna CMA covers Lake Country to Peachland.

In 2019, there were 5,930 children — 16.3 per cent — in the CMA living in poverty.

High child poverty rates were clustered near downtown Kelowna in 2020, according to the report, which is conducted annually by the First Call Child and Youth Society.

The provincial rate was 13.3 per cent in 2020, compared to 18 per cent in 2019.

The overall child poverty rate on 59 BC First Nations reserves in 2020 was 29.2 per cent with at least 3,900 children living in poverty. The rate on rural reserves — 33.9 per cent — was much higher than that on urban reserves — 25.2 per cent.

“The continuing legacy of colonialism is still very apparent in these numbers,” the report stated.

“First Call also recognizes that reserves do not reflect the larger traditional territories of BC’s First Nations where many First Nations children and families live.”

The report also noted that while the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic was one of hardship for many families, 2020 also marked a record low for child poverty rates in B.C. and Canada.

However, it concludes that progress made toward decreasing both the rate and depth of family poverty in 2020 may be all but wiped out by increasing costs in 2023.

READ MORE: ‘Poverty not a character flaw’: Removing stigma, highlighting services in Salmon Arm crucial


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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Recently joined Kelowna Capital News and WestK News as a multimedia journalist in January 2022. With almost 30 years of experience in news reporting and radio broadcasting...
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