A provincial report card on child and family poverty shows a startling number of people go without in Saskatchewan.
According to the organization “Campaign 2000,” 160,0000 people in the province were living in poverty in 2014. Sixty-four thousand of those people were children.
Authors of the report, ‘Child and Family Poverty in Saskatchewan’, Paul Gingrich, Garson Hunter, and Miguel Sanchez , worked with data from David MacDonald of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Campaign 2000.
The three authors are a mix of current and retired professors at the University of Regina.
The report said Saskatchewan’s child poverty rate of 24.6 per cent is just over six percentage points higher than the rest of the country. Only Manitoba and Nunavut have higher rates. Children in single parent families fared worse with a poverty rate of 57.9 per cent.
Peter Gilmer, an advocate with the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry, wasn’t surprised by the results of the report.
“It’s never ending juggling to decide what it is you are going to pay right now. Whether it’s going to be your rent, whether it’s going to be your utilities, whether its food for your children,” Gilmer said.
The report showed the situation for First Nations families appeared worse, with the child poverty rate in 2010 at 59 per cent. In 2010, of the 55,000 poor children in Saskatchewan, 31,000 were from First Nations or Métis families.
It also showed that 69 per cent of indigenous children on reserve are living in poverty, which is more than two of every three, and much higher than the provincial average.
The report also stated that government transfers such as child benefits, tax credits and social assistance do help significantly.
“The 2014 child poverty rate of 24.6 per cent would have been 32.9 per cent without federal and provincial government transfers. That is, transfers reduced the provincial poverty rate from one in three children to one in four – a rate that is still much too high,” read the report.
Gilmer said the issue with reserves is that they don’t always have the resources to fully utilize government assistance, and they miss out on financial assistance that is available.
When asked about the report after Question Period on Thursday afternoon, Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said the increased numbers seen on reserve are because of a gap in the system.
“Unfortunately I think there’s still sometimes jurisdictional disputes about who should be handling what, I think we need to get beyond that with respect to child welfare,” Beaudry-Mellor said.
“When talking about indigenous child poverty… it’s a shameful neglect, that should be eliminated,” Sanchez said.
The good news is child poverty numbers across the province have declined since 2000.