August 4th, 2021

COVID-19 has led to more children in poverty: report

By Tim Kalinowski on December 17, 2020.


According to a new report released in conjunction with Public Interest Alberta and Alberta College of Social Workers, COVID-19 pandemic has brought more children into poverty in the last year adding to an already terrible situation in the province.
Prior to the pandemic one in six Alberta children were already living in poverty and one in eight were already food insecure, but with unemployment skyrocketing to 15.7 per cent this past June those ratios have only worsened, says Joel French, executive director of Public Interest Alberta.
“Employment levels, in particular, impact single-parent families, but also all families where there has been a loss of income,” he said. “And certainly the shutdown of services when we are talking about children, particularly child care and early learning services, we saw before the COVID pandemic some significant cuts in the child care and early learning area from our provincial government in Alberta.
“Those cuts were not reversed. I think COVID would have been an opportunity to have a second look at that and decide not to cut – but unfortunately our provincial government continued to go ahead with that even though people are suffering economic impacts worse than what we have seen in a long time.”
French said it is unrealistic to expect the charity sector to sustainably support and feed this influx of new children living near or below the poverty line, and it is properly the role of the government to provide something so fundamental to Alberta families who are suffering even worse due to COVID-19 and a worsening economy.
“Our focus as a society needs to be on what we can do about it,” French confirmed. “Some of those things like employment levels are the result of us necessary steps to try to deal with the pandemic, and keep people healthy. But other things are the choices government’s make – such as cuts in child care, cuts to many areas of public services people rely on.
“When we have 160,000 kids living in poverty in Alberta,” he added, “there needs to be a general outcry from the general public to demand our politicians take this problem seriously.”
To view the full “Spotlight: Lessons on Child Poverty in a Pandemic” report visit
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