Some new numbers out of a report from the Province’s Health Officer shows B.C. has one of the highest percentages of children and youth living in low income households.
The rate is the second highest nationally, according to the probe into the health and well-being of children and youth in B.C.
Vancouver has the highest rate of unmet core housing needs among three urban centres in the province.
Doctor Bonnie Henry says that does have an impact on children’s health:
“An impact on their ability to learn, on their ability to grow, on the ability to have healthy food in the household. The suite of indicators all work together, and so, it’s one of the things that we can measure that helps us understand what could be an impact on healthy development overtime.”
The report also finds 7% of youth in the province report going to bed hungry, but in some regions, that number is even higher.
No poverty plan
In the wake of the report, the opposition NDP says the B.C.’s high child poverty rates highlight a lack of direction when it comes to addressing the issue.
B.C. is the only province in Canada without an official poverty reduction plan.
NDP Social Development Critic Michelle Mungall, who’s tabled such a plan in the legislature, says it’s time for the government to act.
“Yet again, children are going to bed hungry, they’re going to school hungry, and the negative effect that it has on their health and their overall outcomes for the rest of their lives is incredibly unacceptable.”
Mungall says if the province’s economy truly is firing on all cylinders, it has no excuse for being for being alone in Canada without a plan.
Cyber bullying and suicide
One bright note in the report, rates of cyber bullying among youth are going down.
Dr. Henry says peer pressure has played a role in making would-be cyber bullies think twice.
“It’s seen as being weak and picking on people, so it’s socially not acceptable to bully people.”
However, the report finds the number of youth who are bullied overall is increasing, with more females reporting they’ve been bullied.
Despite the improvements in online bullying rates, the report also notes B.C.’s youth suicide rate remains a concern.
It found more young women are considering or attempting suicide, while young men still have a higher rate of suicide mortality.