Reduction in Child Poverty Stalled in Nova Scotia

November 23, 2011

HALIFAX, NS – Twenty-two years ago (in 1989), the government of Canada promised to end child poverty by the year 2000. However, as Lesley Frank, author of a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives –Nova Scotia, says, "analysis of the latest available data -for 2009- tells us that progress on reducing child poverty appears stalled. For the first time since 2003, the child poverty rate increased and now stands at 8.2% of all children under the age of 18 in Nova Scotia, which translates to 14,000 children living in poverty."

Analysing the data overtime reveals certain troubling trends in Nova Scotia.

  • Certain types of families continue to experience much higher rates of child poverty compared to other family types. The most vulnerable are children in families living on welfare incomes, because no matter the family type, welfare incomes fall far below any poverty measure.
  • Children living in female lone parent families are also more likely to live in poverty than children in two- parent families-25.2% of these children (1 in 4) live below the poverty line as measured by Statistics Canada's After-Tax Low Income Cut-Off (LICO).
  • It is especially concerning, given the research on the critical development of the early years, that children under 6 experienced higher poverty rates than all children under 18. In addition, children of Aboriginal identity, racialized children, children with disabilities and immigrant children experience higher poverty rates than all children under 18.
  • Data since 1996 shows another very disturbing trend: it is increasingly the case that poor children in Nova Scotia live in families where there is at least one full time/full year wage earner. Indeed, just over half of all poor children in the province (51.9 percent) lived in working families (in 2009).

According to Stella Lord, Coordinator of the Community Coalition to End Poverty in Nova Scotia, “It is unacceptable that child poverty has only declined by 3.7 percentage points in the twenty-year period since the House of Commons resolution was passed to eradicate it." She further states, “Recent increases in the minimum wage, the Nova Scotia child benefit, the affordability tax credit and welfare benefits will certainly help, but it is doubtful whether on their own they will be sufficient to end child and family poverty. Take the situation of female lone parent families; getting a job will not necessarily move them out of poverty because of gender inequality in the labour market, the lack of childcare, and inadequate access to pharmacare. This speaks to the need to implement programs specifically targeted to low income families and especially those headed by female single parents, as well as the need for broad policies such as a comprehensive Early Learning Strategy, that will address the unmet needs facing all families with children in Nova Scotia."


To arrange media interviews, please contact: Christine Saulnier, CCPA-NS Director, at (902) 240-0926 (cell).

The Nova Scotia Child Poverty Report Card 2011 (1989–2009) is available on the CCPA website:

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is a national, independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice.

This report card is released in partnership with Campaign 2000, which is a national a non-partisan, cross-Canada coalition of over 120 national, provincial and community organizations that are committed to working together to end child and family poverty in Canada. To access other provincial report cards and the national report card, see