Nova Scotia fares poorly among Atlantic neighbours on measures of child poverty

November 24, 2004

HALIFAX:  A report released today by the Canadian Centre for
Policy Alternatives assesses progress on several measures of child
poverty and finds that Nova Scotia performed fared most poorly among
the four Atlantic Provinces. 

Authors Pauline Raven and Lesley Frank used the most recent data
available for comparisons and found a scattering of results across the
four Atlantic Provinces.  Overall, they found that New Brunswick
placed squarely ahead of other Atlantic Provinces with Prince Edward
Island placing next, followed by Newfoundland and then Nova Scotia.

The 2004 Nova Scotia Child Poverty Report Card draws on the most recent
data available (2002) and shows that poverty continues to keep a grip
on 36,000 children in Nova Scotia.  The Nova Scotia rate of child
poverty was 16.1% in the landmark year of 1989 when Canadian
parliamentarians vowed to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. The
lowest rate recorded by Nova Scotia since the promise was 17% in 1999
but rates are on the increase again and by 2002 our rate stood at 18.1%
- a substantial increase of 2 full percent points representing a 12.4%

The report also charts the rate of child poverty for various groups of
children and finds that children living in lone-parent, immigrant,
visible minority and aboriginal households as well as disabled children
experience much higher rates of child poverty than other Nova Scotia

Raven, one of the card’s authors says: “We also wanted to lie to rest
the question of whether our province is clawing back federal transfers
or not.”  This year’s report charts changes over a period of years
in provincial and federal transfers for families with children in all
four Atlantic Provinces.  Raven says: “In Nova Scotia provincial
transfers to families with children receiving social assistance were
much greater in 1997 (the year before the federal government initiated
enhanced tax benefits for low-income families) than in 2002.” She
concludes that: “Nova Scotia children have been deprived of the
positive impact the increased federal payments should have had,
starting in 1998.”

Frank is focusing her key comments on housing.  She says: “On this
important measure of well-being, Nova Scotia families living in
low-income circumstances are the most disadvantaged in Atlantic
Canada.  In Nova Scotia, 67.7% of families have unaffordable
housing compared with 39.2% in New Brunswick, the province where
affordable housing is most accessible.”  Frank, who was involved
at the planning stages of the food costing project carried out by the
Nova Scotia Nutrition Council in 2002, says: “I fear the health of many
children living in poverty is being severely compromised.  After
paying the inordinately high cost of housing from their meager family
budgets – for too many days in any given month – families find that
nutritional food is simply beyond their means.”  The report found
that on average income shortfalls in Nova Scotia were $662 per
month.  These were lower in the other Atlantic Provinces – ranging
from $554 in New Brunswick, to $561 in Newfoundland and Labrador, and
$572 in Prince Edward Island.

The report makes five key recommendations and calls for an overall plan
of action that states how poverty will be addressed and when we can
expect significant results on the goal of eliminating child poverty.

A copy of “The Nova Scotia Child Poverty Report Card 2004” is available at

For further information contact:
John Jacobs (902) 477-1252.

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