Low-income activists protest government clawbacks to child support in B.C.

Low-income activists marked this Mother’s Day in B.C. to protest government claw backs to child support payments.

Dozens marched through New Westminster Sunday to get the attention of the BC Liberals over money taken from single mothers on income and disability assistance.

Members of Acorn Canada, held a Mother’s Day Poverty Potluck to demonstrate some of the unhealthy food children are forced to eat because of what they say the government is taking away.

Diane Terrillon is a single mother on disability and gets $1,200 a month. Her son’s father will pay child support of $300 a month, but if he does, her payment drops to $900.

Terrillon says the amount isn’t enough to pay for the healthy food her kids need. Each month, she has to resort to this poverty potluck to get by.

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It’s an issue that single moms brought to the legislature in April. They say the government takes away more than $17 million a year from B.C.’s poorest families.

Minister of social development and social innovation Don McRae issued a statement to Global News.

“We all recognize this is a tough issue, however, income assistance is a taxpayer funded program of last resort. To be eligible, people are expected to pursue all other forms of income first—this includes maintenance payments from former partners who are legally obligated and financially able to contribute. While we would all like to do more—we have to balance this with what taxpayers can support,” the statement said.

Acorn members said the claw backs are detrimental to children’s health and mental well-being.

“Food insufficient households are 80 per cent more likely to report diabetes, 60 per cent more likely to report high blood pressure, and 70 per cent more likely to report food allergies,” Acorn said in a statement. “Also, studies show that children in food insecure households are more likely to demonstrate behavioral, emotional, and academic problems… Malnutrition during childhood is recognized as leading to long term effects on children’s physiological and psychological development.”

The issue of financial insecurity is connected to domestic violence as well.

After a recent spate of domestic murders or attempted murders in the Lower Mainland, women’s groups are arguing the government needs to increase financial aid to encourage them to leave abusive relationships.

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