Increasing number of Nova Scotia children living in poverty—findings of the 2020 Report Card just released

December 9, 2020

December 9, 2020

Halifax/Wolfville– In Nova Scotia there are 41,370 children who live in poverty based on the most recent data. The 2020 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia reveals that the percentage of children living in low-income circumstances in Nova Scotia has increased to 24.6%, up from 24.2% in 2017 (a 1.7% increase). Nova Scotia has a slightly higher rate of child poverty than it did in 1989 when the House of Commons promised to end it by the year 2000. Between 1989 and 2018, child poverty rates decreased in every province and territory except Nova Scotia.

As primary author, Lesley Frank, Acadia University Professor and CCPA-NS Research Associate, states, “The child poverty rate increased in 2018 in Nova Scotia, demonstrating growing inequality on top of our historic poor performance on poverty reduction. I struggle to find the words to describe how I feel about that. I move between anger, sadness, to embarrassment – and an overwhelming sense of worry for families struggling through hardship now. With so much to celebrate about our province – when can we be proud of doing right by these families and children?”

Laura Fisher, Report Card co-author, MA student at Acadia University, and CCPA-NS Research Associate, provides these reflections: “We need to resist becoming numb to these devastating numbers and consider the real impact on real families and children. With the current and projected impacts of COVID on family and child poverty in this province it is more urgent than ever that we do not look away. It is urgent that the provincial government implement policy changes swiftly to both lift families from poverty and prevent more children from joining their ranks.”

 “Our recommendations have not changed very much over the past few years because very little has changed to support families with children living in poverty in Nova Scotia. While the data in this report card is for 2018, we can predict that--just like we did two years ago, without significant investment by our provincial government in income supports, any small gains in one year are lost in the next. Moreover, the pandemic likely signals that more families are worse off despite federal emergency income measures,” says co-author, Christine Saulnier, Director of the Nova Scotia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. 

“At what point do we begin to ask whether child and family poverty is not simply a matter of government neglect but in fact is a means of maintaining social stratification? We feel that this question needs to be asked as we examine yet another year with increasing numbers of children in Nova Scotia families living in poverty,” says Saulnier. 

This year’s report card includes stories of family and child poverty amongst clients served by the Cape Breton Family Place Resource Centre.  These stories were anonymized and shared by the Executive Director of that Centre, JoAnna LaTulippe-Rochon, whose reaction to the report card findings was, “The Nova Scotia government claims to be engaging in transforming the income support system. However, true transformation will not be realized until we do better by our most vulnerable families. Doing better means providing at least enough income support for families to meet their basic needs. Doing better also means ensuring families have access to childcare, the public health care they need including mental health care, pharmacare, dental care, as well as available and affordable essential services, including food, housing, transportation and internet.”


The 2020 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia, can be downloaded free at:

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact CCPA-NS Director, Christine Saulnier at (902) 240-0926 (cell) or email [email protected]  

This report card is released in partnership with Campaign 2000, the federal report card can be accessed at

The CCPA-NS is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice, as well as environmental sustainability. 

Campaign 2000 is cross-Canada public education movement to build Canadian awareness and support for the 1989 all-party House of Commons resolution to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000.