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Child poverty report highlights impact of COVID financial aid: Saint John Human Development Council

Click to play video: 'New report shows newcomers hardest hit by child poverty in New Brunswick'
New report shows newcomers hardest hit by child poverty in New Brunswick
WATCH: A new report from Saint John's Human Development council shows that New Brunswick's newcomer population is the hardest hit by child poverty. Suzanne Lapointe has more. – Feb 14, 2023

The latest child poverty report from the Saint John Human Development Council shows children living in poverty got a temporary reprieve thanks to federal programs like CERB and the CRB.

“We saw that those pandemic supports lifted just a little over 10 000 New Brunswick children out of poverty but we know that those are no longer in place,” Saint John Human Development Council social researcher Chelsea Driscoll said in an interview on Tuesday.

The report, compiled by tax filer data, showed one in five New Brunswick children below the age of 6 were living in poverty in 2020, with the rate being one in three for racialized New Brunswickers.

Campbellton, Bathurst and Saint John saw the highest rates of child poverty.

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Driscoll said between those benefits ending and record-high inflation, it’s likely the poverty has returned to pre-pandemic levels or worse.

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The child poverty rate in New Brunswick was at 21.7 per cent in 2019 and 16.6 per cent in 2020.

“Housing costs for example is definitely a burden on families, access to affordable housing, grocery prices have gone up significantly as we pointed out in our living wage research,” she said.

Driscoll said some families were seeing certain benefits clawed back as a form of CERB repayment.

“One of the key recommendations that (the report highlights) this year is that families whose household income is below the poverty line or near the poverty line should receive some sort of CERB amnesty and not have those transfers clawed back,” she said.

The report also calls for the provincial government to “provide sustained funding for poverty reduction programs”, increase the minimum wage annually and reinstate the rent cap.

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