1/4 of young Nanaimo children live in poverty: report

By Ian Holmes
November 17, 2017 - 4:08pm Updated: November 18, 2017 - 6:58am

Children play on the gym floor of Fairview Community School at an event Friday hosted by the Greater Nanaimo Early Years Partnership.David Seath

NANAIMO — An increasing number of young Nanaimo children belong to families struggling to make ends meet.

The semi-annual State of the Child Report, released by the Greater Nanaimo Early Years Partnership on Friday, points to several concerning poverty-related indicators.

Central Island medical health officer Dr. Paul Hasselback told a large crowd gathered at Fairview Community School there are more young Nanaimo kids coming from “economically challenged” households.

“That's now one in four essentially in the city of Nanaimo, that means that those kids don't have the advantages when they get to school to the same extent that others do.”

Hasselback said a higher percentage of single parents in Nanaimo (35 per cent) and challenges posed by new technology are also red flag items to pay attention to.

The report wasn't entirely negative. Hasselback said higher literacy and immunization rates compared to 2014 were positive signs.

The number of licensed childcare spaces in the Nanaimo also rose to 2,700, but Hasselback pointed out it's not known if the 8.6 per cent jump in available spaces are accessible to those in need.

He said the report is valuable because it helps grade the community and those focused on improving outcomes for children.

“It gives us a chance to speak out to parents as well and say 'okay where are you here and how can we be more of assistance to ensure your kids are going to thrive.'”

Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog said the report shows there is a long way to go.

“What we know is many people are falling behind and as the families fall behind it is the children who suffer.”

 

[email protected]

On Twitter: @reporterholmes

 

City's safety committee calls for focus on housing, modular homes