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Child Poverty - Misconceptions

According to Dr. Paul Hasselback, Medical Health Officer for the central Vancouver Island region, almost 20 per cent of students - one in five children - in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District are living in poverty.

"And there are a lot of misconceptions about child poverty," he says.

Only 5% on income assistance
"Of the 20% of students living in impoverished conditions, only 5% are from families on income assistance. The other 15% are in that marginal income level where trying to get through a month is a challenge. They may be fine for a week or two when there is enough money but not necessarily for the rest of the month."

Dr. Paul Hasselback

Part-time work, low wages
"Starting incomes haven't changed much but the cost of housing has increased four times compared to prices back in the 70s. Also, many jobs are now part-time, and people are working multiple jobs and having a hard time making ends meet."

Housing, child care, student debt load
"Our region has a high proportion of single-parent families - many of them women - and many young families are 'squeezed' between lower incomes and higher costs for housing and child care. In addition, many are carrying high student debt loads because of the high cost of post-secondary education."

All schools
"The least we can do is begin to recognize that we have an issue - all schools have the issue, some more so than others - but let's begin by recognizing it as a community and start working together because we can do something about alleviating child poverty if we take a comprehensive approach," says Dr. Hasselback.

Photo:  Dr. Paul Hasselback addresses the crowd at the 2014 Stock the Lockers fundraiser kick-off.

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