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MP Blaney: poverty survey doesn’t paint accurate picture

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney is skeptical about numbers that show poverty is on the decline.

The results from 2018 Canadian Income Survey show that B.C.’s overall poverty rate dropped to 8.9 per cent in 2018 compared to 12 per cent in 2016.

The child poverty rate also declined to 6.9 per cent in 2018 from 12 per cent in 2016.

Blaney criticized the way Stats Canada measured poverty.

“What they’re measuring it by is called the Market Basket Measure,” she said. 

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“Before they used to measure poverty by the low-income measure. When we looked at the information that they presented us, it actually took, specifically around seniors, poverty from about 14 per cent down to four per cent, just based on how they were deciding to measure it. So I have some skepticism about how they’re choosing to measure poverty across Canada and what the impacts could be simply in that methodology.”

The Market Basket Measure looks at the cost of a specific basket of goods and services representing a modest, basic standard of living and compares that to income.

It includes the costs of food, clothing, footwear, transportation, shelter and other expenses for a reference family of two adults (aged 25 to 49) and two children (aged nine and 13).

Meanwhile, Blaney said that while there are good things happening with B.C.’s economy, there have also been some challenges.

“When I look at this, to me the biggest issue is, ‘How are they measuring poverty and is it being felt on the ground?’ And we’re still hearing from a lot of folks, especially in our riding, that there are some really big challenges with making ends meet, and the cost of living is continuing to increase.”

Blaney said we have a long way to go before poverty is remedied.

The survey found that children in lone-parent families remain more vulnerable to poverty.

In 2018, the child poverty rate was 5.8 per cent for those living in couple families, compared with 26.2 per cent for those in female lone-parent families.

About 216,000 people aged 65 years and older, or 3.5 per cent of the senior population, lived in poverty in 2018, little changed from 2017. 

The poverty rate was 1.7 per cent for seniors living in families and 7.9 per cent for unattached seniors.

To view the 2018 Canadian Income Survey, click here.

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