B.C. receives D+ grade on Poverty Report Card for 2nd year in a row

B.C. receives D+ grade on Poverty Report Card for 2nd year in a row
Food Banks Canada
Food Banks Canada Poverty Report Card gave Canada an overall grade of D- in the 2024 report.

For the second year in a row, Food Banks Canada has given B.C. a D+ on its Poverty Report Card.

The report looks at efforts in provinces and territories across Canada to reduce poverty at provincial, territorial and federal levels of government.

B.C. was one of five provinces, alongside Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, that maintained the same letter grade from the Poverty Report Card the year before. Only two provinces — Quebec and Nova Scotia — saw their scores improve. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba all saw a decline in their scores.

All three territories had scores marked as inconclusive.

The grades were weighed in four categories — experience of poverty, poverty measures, material deprivation and legislative progress.

Overall, Canada was given a grade of D-.

Experience of poverty

In the experience of poverty category of the report, B.C. scored a D-, the same as in 2023.

In this area, the province saw improvements in two areas, in 2023 47 per cent of people felt they were worse off than the year before, and this dropped slightly to 45 per cent in 2024. The second was the percent of income spent of fixed costs beyond housing, which B.C. saw a one per cent reduction from 53.6 per cent in 2023 to 52.6 per cent.

The largest drop the province saw was in people having trouble accessing health care, which rose from 14.2 per cent to 27.3 per cent in 2024. This was measured by people who said they disagree with the statement that they can access and receive health care and who said the reason was that they couldn’t take time off work, don’t have health care coverage or don’t have the money for medication.

B.C. also saw a “significant” increase in the number of people spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, from 39.1 per cent in 2023 to 46.6 per cent in 2024.

“The province’s grade may have remained unchanged this year, but it is deeply alarming that this is the second year in a row that B.C. has had the highest housing costs of all the provinces,” the report says. “These two points suggest that living conditions have either remained the same or are getting worse in the province.”

Prince Edward Island is the province that scored the highest in this category with a grade of C-.

Poverty measures

B.C.’s score in poverty measures dropped from a D+ in 2023 to a D- in 2024.

The score for provincial welfare as a percent of the poverty line for single people remained the same, at 42 per cent both years, as did the provincial disability welfare as a percent of the poverty line, at 62 per cent both years.

The poverty rate rose slightly from 8.8 per cent in 2023 to 11.6 per cent in 2024.

Both the food insecurity rate and unemployment rates rose in 2024, from 16.8 per cent to 21.8 per cent for the food insecurity rate and 4.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent for unemployment, resulting in the score reduction in this category.

“This year, every single province except Quebec received a failing grade for food insecurity,” the report says. “This demonstrates a widespread and deeply concerning trend of increasing food insecurity throughout the country.”

Quebec scored the highest in this category with a B- grade.

Material deprivation

The report card did not provide a comparison to 2023 for this category, but the province scored a D.

B.C. received a D+ for inadequate standard of living, with 33.6 per cent of people responding they were unable to afford two or more items from a list considered necessities.

Those with a severely inadequate standard of living received a D with 24.6 per cent saying they could not afford three or more necessities.

“Nearly one-quarter of residents in the province are missing three or more items that are considered necessary for a decent standard of living, this indicates that a significant percentage of residents experience a severely inadequate standard of living,” the report says.

“Additionally, just over one-third report missing two items, suggesting they experience an inadequate standard of living.”

Prince Edward Island scored the highest in this category with a C+.

Legislative progress

The province saw a jump in its score for legislative progress, moving from a C in 2023 to a B in 2024.

“Despite strong commitments to poverty reduction measures, the ripple effect of having the country’s most unaffordable housing is putting enormous strain on B.C.,” the report says. “This year, the province has taken some action to increase the housing supply and to support vulnerable residents.”

Some of the measures the report highlighted included 10-year targets to reduce poverty, introducing a “robust housing plan,” eliminating childcare waitlist fees, increasing the minimum wage, and taking action on food insecurity.

The report also says B.C. has “become a national leader on housing” with its plan, but offers limited immediate relief since housing will take time to build.

“The government has introduced legislation that should lead to positive outcomes for residents with low incomes,” the report says. “However, it needs to take more action on social assistance rates and look at ways to bring immediate relief to those who are experiencing poverty and food insecurity today so that their circumstances do not deteriorate.”

B.C. tied for the highest grade in this category with Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

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Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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