Contributing Factors of Child Poverty in New Brunswick
New Brunswick has one of the highest rates of child poverty in Canada. In 2018 an estimated 21% or 20,000 children living in New Brunswick were living below the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) line. The LICO is a measure used by Statistics Canada to identify households whose income falls below the poverty line and is based on the cost of a basket of goods purchased in 1961 by families with children. The goal of this strategy is to better understand how we can support families as they transition out of poverty.
The facts about child poverty in Canada
The first thing to know about child poverty in Canada is that it’s a problem. It’s not just an issue that pops up every so often, but rather one that affects many people across the country. According to statistics from 2016, New Brunswick has the highest rate of child poverty among all provinces and territories in Canada at 23.9%. To put this into perspective, this number means that out of every 100 children born in New Brunswick, 24 will live below Canada’s official low income cut off (LICO) threshold for their entire childhood. This statistic is especially concerning when compared to other countries around the world; according to UNICEF’s most recent report on child poverty around the globe, only five countries had worse rates than ours: Israel (22%), Greece (23%) Israel (22%), Greece (23%), Spain (24%) and Mexico (26%).
The number of children living in poverty is increasing despite social assistance reforms
A recent report by the New Brunswick Child Poverty Roundtable revealed that the number of children living in poverty has increased by 30% over the last 10 years and by 4% in the last year alone.
In 2018, one in five children under 18 years old was living below Statistics Canada’s Low Income Measure after tax (LIM-AT), which means they did not have enough money to meet their basic needs. This includes things like food, shelter and clothing.
In order for a family to live at or above LIM-AT, they must earn $35,000 per year for a two-parent household with two young children; $42,000 for a family with three young children; $51,000 for four young kids; and $60,000 for families with five or more young children. That may sound like a lot of money but it isn’t when you consider how much housing costs these days—especially in New Brunswick’s capital city where child poverty rates are significantly higher than elsewhere across Atlantic Canada: 25% compared with 19% across Nova Scotia (the province with lowest rate) combined!
Child care is expensive, and parents are often forced to leave paid employment to take time off for their children
The cost of child care is a significant barrier to employment. Child care costs are prohibitive, and parents who do not have paid parental leave must take time off work to care for their children. The lack of affordable child care services, combined with low wages and inflexible work schedules, has contributed to New Brunswick having one of the highest rates of women in the workforce in Canada (87%).
Families with children in poverty are also more likely to have food insecurity
Food insecurity is a problem in Canada, but the New Brunswick child poverty rate of 15.1% is even worse. In fact, 19% of children under 18 in New Brunswick live in food insecure households. Children’s health and development can be negatively impacted by food insecurity, which includes going hungry or not knowing where their next meal will come from.
Recognizing a change in living conditions or income, one has a right to apply for assistance from the Department of Social Development
Recognizing a change in living conditions or income, one has a right to apply for assistance from the Department of Social Development.
To apply for assistance, you can:
- Apply online at www.gnb.ca/socialservices/apply-for-social-services/index_en.html
- Visit any Family and Community Support Services office (FACSS) in any community across New Brunswick
- Call 2-1-1 (provides information on all social service programs and services available in New Brunswick) and speak with a specialist who will give you instructions on how to submit an application by phone or by mail
The government’s strategy to help families move out of poverty
The government’s strategy to help families moving out of poverty includes a child support initiative, targeted programs, training and education, and more.
- The New Brunswick Child Support Initiative was introduced in October 2005. It includes a universal child care benefit—the provincial government pays $100 per month for each child under six years old ($150 if both parents are eligible). This is in addition to any child care subsidy which may be available through the province’s Family Assistance Program.
- A tax deduction of up to $1,200 per year on your income tax return if you have children under 18 or are adopting a child from outside Canada (amount varies depending on household income).
- The province also has several targeted programs for low-income families who need additional assistance with housing costs:
- Rent Supplement Program helps recipients pay their rent directly; some recipients may also receive funds for utility bills as well as food hampers if needed; maximum annual income is $27,000 for one person or $31,000 for two persons plus an additional $5,000 per dependent person (children or seniors). You must meet criteria including having no other resources other than employment earnings or employment insurance benefits (up to 25%). Your landlord must agree to accept rent supplement payments directly from the provincial government instead of you paying them directly.
Sources for the information provided:
- “Child poverty in New Brunswick, Canada.” New Brunswick Child Poverty Roundtable. Accessed March 24, 2023. https://nbcpr.ca/child-poverty-in-new-brunswick-canada/.
- “Child Poverty in Canada.” Campaign 2000. Accessed March 24, 2023. https://campaign2000.ca/child-poverty-in-canada/.
- “Facts about poverty in New Brunswick.” Vibrant Communities Charlotte County. Accessed March 24, 2023. https://www.vibrantcc.ca/facts-about-poverty-in-new-brunswick/.
- “New Brunswick Child Support Initiative.” Government of New Brunswick. Accessed March 24, 2023. https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/social_development/child_support_initiative.html.
- “New Brunswick Rent Supplement Program.” Government of New Brunswick. Accessed March 24, 2023. https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/services/services_renderer.201102.Rent_Supplement_Program.html.
- UNICEF. “Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries.” Innocenti Report Card 10, UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, Florence. Accessed March 24, 2023. https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc10_eng.pdf.