Time for a New Social Contract to Eradicate Child and Family Poverty

November 21, 2017

Halifax The 2017 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia reveals that 35,870 children or more than 1 in 5 children in Nova Scotia were living in poverty in 2015.

As primary author, Acadia University Professor Lesley Frank says, “We should celebrate the fact that 1,600 children were lifted out of poverty between 2014 and 2015. However, at 21.6%, child poverty decreased by less than a percentage point, and we lost ground relative to other provinces. Nova Scotia had the third-highest provincial child poverty rate, and the highest rate in Atlantic Canada.”

Those who are working on ensuring our governments do the right thing are pleased that the Canadian government is in the process of developing a poverty reduction strategy.

“While the new Canada Child Benefit is undoubtedly helpful for many families, no one should be under any illusion that it will end child and family poverty. We have an opportunity to get closer to that goal if we continue to invest. Federal government leadership and funding is critical,” says Stella Lord with the Community Society to End Poverty Nova Scotia.

“At the same time, we must also call upon our municipal and provincial governments to make similar supportive commitments to the idea of a new social contract.”

Poverty rates in Nova Scotia do vary widely by community from a low of 3.9% in Fall River, part of the Halifax Regional Municipality, to a high of 72.7% in Eskasoni (postal area). Eighteen communities in Nova Scotia have child poverty rates over 30%–ten on Cape Breton Island.

The report card also reveals very troubling inequities among children based on race and ethnicity. Over one-third (37.4%) of visible minority children living in poverty, 40.3% of immigrant children, and 25.6% of Aboriginal children, The highest poverty rates for visible minority groups were 67.8% of Arab children in Nova Scotia, 50.6% of Korean children. In addition, 39.6% of Black children were reported to be living in poverty. Not surprising, several communities with high poverty rates also have higher concentrations of these groups including many of the communities on Cape Breton Island that include a First Nations reserve, as well as communities predominantly populated by African Nova Scotians, like East Preston (rate of 38.9%) and North Preston (rate of 40%).

“We must ensure that more efforts are made to reduce poverty for families who are at greater risk of living in poverty. These families face discrimination and additional barriers that are limiting their children’s ability to grow up healthy and to develop their potential towards full participation in society. In order for our efforts to be most effective, our government must develop public policy solutions that take into consideration these differences in order to get at the root causes of poverty,” says co-author Christine Saulnier, Nova Scotia Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.   

The 2017 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia, can be downloaded free at: www.policyalternatives.ca

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.