More Islanders living in poverty now than in 1989

Mitch MacDonald comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on November 24, 2014
Mary Boyd
Guardian photo by Jim Day

A new report showing the level of poverty in Prince Edward Island is “extremely disappointing,” says a well-known social activist and author of the report.

Mary Boyd, of the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice, said the report shows that poverty rate for P.E.I. now stands at 17.5 per cent.

That is a 26.8 per cent increase since the 13.8 per cent in 1989, the same year the House of Commons passed a unanimous resolution to seek the goal of eliminating poverty for all Canadians by the year 2000.

CLICK HERE FOR A CLOSER LOOK AT SOME OF THE NUMBERS

“It’s almost hard to find words to describe a situation like this,” Boyd said in an interview with The Guardian.

“And to find words describing what kinds of choices and priorities our leaders have when they allow a situation like this to happen.”

Campaign 2000, which is a network comprised of 120 groups across Canada working for the realization of the 1989 resolution, released its 23rd report card on child and family poverty in Canada over the weekend.

The report, which marks the first time that P.E.I. has produced a report card on child poverty, shows the small province isn’t the only one to see an increase.

Since the 1989 resolution, the level of poverty in Canada has increased from 1,066,150 (15.8 per cent) to 1,331,530 (19.1 per cent) by 2012.

Boyd said that P.E.I. showed the third highest rate of increase in the country, despite a provincial government promise in 2009 to implement a poverty eradication strategy.

“In one way, it’s not a surprise because we’ve been watching this,” said Boyd. “What we are surprised at is the lack of leadership on this very vital issue by our leaders.”

Boyd said while there have been a few weak attempts to combat poverty in P.E.I., there has been no progress and the province has to be the first to tackle the issue.

The figures of poverty on P.E.I.

 

Lone-parent families are among the hardest hit in terms of poverty on Prince Edward Island.

A report card on child and family poverty in Canada released this weekend by Campaign 2000 showed the numbers of Islanders struggling has increased since 1989.

Single-parent families in P.E.I. had an average poverty rate of 44.9 per cent, compared to the poverty rate for couples at 8.9 per cent.

Geographically, child poverty was spread rather evenly across the province.

According to the latest figures in 2012, the rate for child poverty in Charlottetown was 17.3 per cent, while Summerside saw a rate of 19.7 per cent.

The rest of the province stood at 17 per cent.

The paper also looked to a 2012 report on household food insecurity as an indicator of the rate of poverty in P.E.I.

According to the report, P.E.I. had the highest rate of food insecurity outside of Northern Canada with a rate of 21.9 per cent.

P.E.I. also led the country in the proportion of food insecure households relying on wages and salaries at 79 per cent.

In addition, 38 per cent of the Islanders using food banks are children, while people on social assistance and EI are evenly split at 24 per cent each as food bank users.

Urban residents who rent houses or apartments are also the most common users of the food bank at 68.7 per cent.