Celebrating Family Day

Carol Ross, Executive director Parent Support Services Society of B.C.
Prince George Citizen

Families in B.C. would love to celebrate Family Day. Unfortunately, for many, this will prove difficult. Parent Support Services Society of BC (PSS) works to provide parenting support circles and education, and Canada’s only Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (GRG) support line.

Children are raised by two parents, lone parents, same-sex couples, aunts and uncles, siblings, foster parents, and increasingly by grandparents. Listening to families, and following the research and news, we know that B.C. is falling short in meeting many basic needs.

According to the 2011 National Household Survey, 46 per cent of people living in the City of Vancouver are paying more for lodging than they can afford. The Royal Bank reports that some homeowners in the city are spending 90 per cent of their income on shelter.

The Coalition of Childcare Advocates of BC reports that childcare fees are families’ second highest expense after housing. In 2012, the median annual childcare fee for a toddler was $10,884. Childcare can cost families more than post-secondary education.

First Call’s 2013 Report Card on Child poverty found that in 2012, B.C. had the worst child poverty rate in Canada – 18.6 per cent. Those children live in families who are living in poverty. Significant numbers of these children living in poverty live with at least one adult who is working full time. There are parents and caregivers who work two or more part-time jobs and still can’t make ends meet.

The poverty rate for children living in single-mother families was 49.8 per cent. Children living in two-parent families had a poverty rate of 14 per cent. B.C.’s poverty rate for children under six years, at 20.7 per cent, was sight percentage points higher than the Canadian average. Aboriginal and immigrant families face disproportional rates of poverty.

Children’s singer/songwriter Raffi has sung, “All I really need is a song in my heart,
Food in my belly, and love in my family.”

B.C.’s diverse families are full of love, but find it difficult to sing when they worry about how to afford next month’s rent or mortgage payment and still provide sufficient healthy food and all the other basics of daily life many of us take for granted.

This Family Day, let us all make a commitment to work towards a poverty reduction plan for BC, followed by action so that all families thrive, feel included, and can participate in celebrations for years to come.

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