The Mustard Seed operates the largest Food Bank in Victoria. The number of families relying on this service on a monthly basis has increased over the years to the current level of 950 families. One third of Food Bank users are children.
The high cost of living in Victoria, including the lack of affordable housing, means that many families struggle. Often this translates into intergenerational poverty because it is not easy to break the cycle of poverty. The CCB (Canada Child Benefit) effective from July, 2016 provides some additional financial support for children of low income families and this will provide some needed relief but does not significantly improve the challenges faced by low income families, including families who are the “working poor”.
The 2017 Report Card from First Call BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition shows that child poverty in B.C. continues to be unacceptably high. The report highlights how growing inequality among B.C. families has 1 in 5 children living in poverty. Single parent families, recent immigrant children, off-reserve Aboriginal children and racialized children have poverty rates ranging from 23-47%. Most single parent families are led by women who are disproportionately affected by child poverty.
The report also highlights the kinds of policies that keep children and families locked in poverty. This research by First Call BC(firstcallbc.org) offers important evidence of the need to support families.