Three decades lost

Less than 1% reduction in child poverty in Nova Scotia since 1989
January 14, 2020

January 14, 2020 

Halifax – In Nova Scotia there are 40,710 children or close to 1 in 4 children (24.2%) who live in poverty based on the most recent data. The 2019 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 decreased 0.82% since the 1989 promise to end child poverty. 

As primary author, Lesley Frank, Acadia University Professor and CCPA-NS Research Associate, states, “This year's report card marks the 30th anniversary of the promise to end child poverty, and for me, it marks twenty years of tracking the data. The status, and depth of child poverty in Nova Scotia deeply troubles me, so too the lack of progress on eradicating it compared to the rest of the country. Government action needs to follow the evidence. Children can't be made to wait." 

Laura Fisher, this year’s report card’s co-author and MA student at Acadia University, provides these reflections: “As a mother who has lived many years below the low-income measure, I know that these numbers represent so many real families and their stories. They represent stories of chronic stress and precarity as you wonder whether you can make it through the month, pay rent, pay for food, not to mention extra-curricular activities for your children.” 

Fisher further reflects, “As a researcher, I see the way Nova Scotia is continuing to fall behind despite improvements in much of the rest of Canada. I had to check and re-check numbers because I couldn’t believe we were still so dismally failing children. It’s 2020 and time Nova Scotia stepped up to better support all families.” 

Reactions to the Report Card: Fred Wien, Professor Emeritus at Dalhousie University and project lead on the national First Nations Poverty Action Research Project provides his reaction to the report card findings, “I commend the Campaign 2000 movement for again making information on child poverty in Nova Scotia available and for keeping this issue at the forefront in the province.” 

He goes on to say, “The report shows that child poverty levels in the five Mi’kmaq communities documented are very high, ranging from 50 to 75 per cent. That is two to three times the provincial average. While there is reason to be cautious about on reserve data, information nationally also shows very high First Nations child poverty rates. That is not O.K. We can never achieve reconciliation as long as these sharp inequalities persist”. 

Paul Wozney, President of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union makes these critical points, “It is extremely challenging for a child struggling under the weight of poverty to focus on learning. As a result, youth living in low-income households generally have worse academic outcomes and are twice as likely to drop out of school. Every classroom in our province is impacted in some way by growing income inequality, which is why Nova Scotia’s teachers are calling for a province-wide strategy to end child poverty.” 

Alec Stratford of the Nova Action Coalition for Community Well-Being and Executive Director of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers says, “This report card identifies the problems and also the solutions. We must look at the evidence that shows that more significant government intervention is needed. We can end poverty, but it will require government investments and programming where the free market has failed to deliver on life’s essentials, such as affordable housing, drug plans and child care. It requires transferring wealth directly to those who need direct income supports. We must also ensure that more efforts are made to reduce poverty for families who face discrimination and additional barriers that make them at greater risk of living in poverty.” 

The 2019 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia, can be downloaded free on the CCPA website.

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

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