Letter to the Editor: Child poverty in Rupert

Families are losing their children to the child welfare system because they can’t afford the basic necessities

Re: Prince Rupert second-worst in B.C. for child poverty, December 14, 2016

Editor:

I was saddened, but not surprised, to read this article.

With skyrocketing BC Hydro rates and the squeeze on rental housing, lower income families in Prince Rupert are often faced with making the difficult choice between paying the hydro bill or paying rent.

If they get behind with their rent because they chose to pay the hydro bill, these families can then be faced with eviction. If families get behind with BC Hydro, they face enormous security deposits that are impossible for most people, let alone low income families, to afford.

Besides the obvious ramifications of not having any heat like being cold and having mold growth in homes, families are losing their children to the child welfare system because they can’t afford the basic necessities. To the families I know in Prince Rupert facing this, it feels like punishment for being poor.

Child poverty is a problem for all of B.C., and the fact that the child poverty rate for Prince Rupert is at 30 per cent breaks my heart, especially since Christy Clark’s government is ignoring solutions to this.

Every province in the country except B.C. has a poverty reduction plan. That’s why my colleague, Michelle Mungall, has repeatedly introduced legislation that would create such a plan. Unfortunately, Christy Clark’s government has blocked it every time, and we continue to see unacceptably high rates of child poverty all across our province.

This holiday season, please give generously to our local food banks and charities that help to alleviate poverty. And please remember so much more can be done if only we had a willing government.

Jennifer Rice, MLA for the North Coast and

Deputy Opposition Spokesperson for Children & Family Development