Release Date: November 24, 2006
Media Contact: Stephen King, External Relations
E-mail: Stephen.King@uregina.ca
Phone: (306) 585.5632
Mobile: (306) 536.4312
Fax: (306) 585.4997
Report shows little change in Saskatchewan’s child poverty rate
Saskatchewan’s child poverty rate has changed very little over the past year, according to a report card released today by the Social Policy Research Unit of the University of Regina’s Faculty of Social Work.

This lack of progress is worrisome, says Garson Hunter, associate professor at the University of Regina and co-author of the 2006 Report Card on Child Poverty in Saskatchewan.

“If you look at the numbers in the report card at the most fundamental level, there is a genuine cause for concern in our province’s communities,” he says. “Close to one in five Saskatchewan children lives are at or under the poverty line, which is unchanged from last year. This means approximately 43,680 children will go to bed tonight without some of the basic necessities that many people take for granted. But these children are more than numbers – they’re real kids from real families whose standard of living is not what you would expect in a province that is doing so well economically right now.”

The poverty line is calculated by Statistics Canada each year to reflect the income needed to cover the basic requirements of food, shelter, and clothing. The poverty line in Saskatchewan is $21,804 a year before taxes for a single parent with one child, and $32,546 before taxes for a couple with two children.

Child poverty levels are especially high in Saskatchewan’s Aboriginal community. Aboriginal poverty rates are about four times that of the general population.

The report is based on the most recent Statistics Canada data available from 2004. Some of the 2006 report’s findings include:
• Over the years, Saskatchewan rates of child poverty remain consistently above the national average: 17.7 per cent of Canadian children live in poverty; in Saskatchewan the incidence of child poverty is 20.1 per cent
• 57.3 per cent of Saskatchewan families who live in female-lone-parent families are poor.
• The average Saskatchewan poor family with children requires an additional income of $8,150 to reach the poverty line.
• It would require $352 million to raise all Saskatchewan poor children and their families to the poverty line.
Hunter notes that the report is more than a dire assessment of Saskatchewan’s child poverty rate – it is also a call to action.

“It’s not too late to improve the lives of children in this province,” he says. “The report contains a number of recommendations to help address child poverty. For example, end the provincial clawback of a portion of the Canada Child Tax Benefit paid to families on welfare and bring in more progressivity of income distribution into the tax system so that benefits accrue primarily to those with little income. Hunter added that the provincial budget surpluses present an historic opportunity to eliminate child poverty”

The 2006 Report Card on Child Poverty in Saskatchewan echoes many of the findings in other child poverty reports released across Canada today. These reports show that British Columbia has the highest rate of child poverty in the country.

To view a copy of the 2006 Child Poverty Report visit the Social Policy Research Unit’s website at: http://www.uregina.ca/spr/