Report shows high level of child poverty in P.E.I.

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on December 7, 2015

Mary Boyd, who is displaying the report card on child and family poverty on P.E.I and is director of the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice, believes the province is content to simply pass the buck to Islanders to help offset the serious shortfall of the many who live here and struggle to make ends meet.

©Jim Day/The Guardian

Mary Boyd looks on in frustration and disbelief as one P.E.I. government after the next fails to make a serious effort to curb poverty.

In fact, the director of the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice, believes the province is content to simply pass the buck to Islanders to help offset the serious shortfall of the many who live here and struggle to make ends meet.

Boyd, who spearheaded a coalition for a poverty eradication strategy, says the provincial government is willing to let the public take care of hunger by means of food banks and soup kitchens even though statistics show that the majority of people in need do not use these Band-Aid measures.

Social assistance recipients, she says, are referred to the food bank for Christmas turkeys creating a savings for the government at the expense of the public.

"Poverty is just not on the radar when governments are making decisions about budgets,'' says Boyd.

"You see very little reference to it and any time that there is any change, it is so minuscule that it goes nowhere and it really does nothing to improve peoples' lives.''

CLICK HERE TO READ SOME OF THE REPORT'S RECOMMENDATIONS

Boyd recently released her second annual report of Child and Family Poverty on Prince Edward Island.

The numbers, she details in the 12-page report, paint a disturbing picture.

The child poverty rate on P.E.I. jumped from 13.8 percent in 1989 to 18.2 percent in 2013 based on the after tax low income measure.

The family after tax income on P.E.I. for a one parent family with one child is $16,430, well below the national poverty line of $24,319, notes Boyd.

Prince Edward Island, she adds, has the worst record in the country with 41.1 percent of one-parent families living in poverty.

Many Islanders, she says, go on suffering and feeling that they are not getting anywhere.

"Well, they don't see an end to their poverty and they don't see any immediate action to alleviate that poverty,'' says Boyd.

She urges government to put more money into social assistance.

Also, a determined effort must be made to establish a stable living wage for all workers.

Boyd laments the many number of Islanders working at temporary employment.

"They're only getting a small number of hours,'' she says.

Here are some recommendations in Mary Boyd's report on Child and Family Poverty on Prince Edward Island. To read the full report, visit www.campaign2000.ca and follow the links.

- P.E.I. government takes immediate steps to implement a poverty eradication strategy.

- Part-time workers assured by law enough working hours to qualify for social benefits.

- New federal government scrap changes to employment insurance changes and cuts imposed by the previous Stephen Harper government.