Child poverty continues to be a significant problem in Alberta.
A new report entitled One in Six Is Too Many shows that 17.7 per cent of children — more than one in six — aged 17 and under were living below the low-income threshold in Alberta as of 2016. This equates to 171,860 children, up from 162,200 in 2014. Since 2006, there has been a 23.4 per cent increase in the number of children in Alberta living in poverty.
The report, a joint effort by Public Interest Alberta, the Edmonton Social Planning Council and the Alberta College of Social Workers, was released Nov. 20 to coincide with National Child Day.
“While the NDP government has proposed laudable changes in policy such as the minimum wage increase and the recent improvements to income support, much work remains,” said Sandra Ngo, research co-ordinator for the Edmonton Social Planning Council.
The report calls on the government to create a poverty reduction strategy, as Alberta is just one of two provinces without one.
“Legislating a plan to eliminate poverty with targets and other accountability measures would show we are serious about addressing the problem,” said Joel French, executive director of Public Interest Alberta.
“Our federal government now has one, as do Alberta’s major municipalities, so immediate provincial government action on this is necessary.” ❚
Read the report
One in Six Is Too Many: An Alberta Child Poverty Report is available at www.pialberta.org.
The report contains the following recommendations for the Government of Alberta to help reduce the extent of poverty:
- Implement actions to address the significant shortage of annual
- Create and implement a provincial poverty reduction strategy with targets and timelines.
- Change reduction rates associated with Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), Alberta Works, the Alberta Child Benefit and the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit (AFETC) to incentivize families to increase their employment income.
- Continue to improve the minimum wage in order to cover the cost of living for working families.
- Improve funding and resources for the education system, including working with First Nations on reserve to improve education standards, and the Class
- Implement a universal childcare system that improves accessibility, affordability and quality, such as expanding the early learning and child care (ELCC) centres.
- Extend provincial coverage for pharmaceuticals through a pharmacare program, in order to keep more money in the pockets of low-income Albertans.