New Brunswick’s 2023 Child and Family Poverty Report Card reveals a concerning increase in child poverty rates. The report, released in February 2024, uses tax filer data from 2021 to highlight the growing issue of child poverty in the province. 

In 2021, approximately 1 in 6 Canadian children lived in poverty, marking an increase in the child poverty rate from 13.5% in 2020 to 15.6% in 2021. New Brunswick, unfortunately, was not immune to this trend. The province had the country’s sixth-highest child poverty rate, or fourth if only considering the provinces and not the territories.

The number of children living in poverty in New Brunswick rose from 23,000 (16.6%) in 2020 to 26,360 (18.7%) in 2021. This increase is particularly alarming given that the child poverty rate in New Brunswick is unevenly distributed across its eight cities. The rates range from a high of over 25% in Campbellton, Saint John, and Bathurst, to a low of 11.4% in Dieppe. 

The report also highlights income inequality in the province. The highest decile of New Brunswick families with children held 22.7% of total income, while the lowest decile held just 2.1%. Furthermore, approximately 1 in 5 children under age 6 (20.7%) are living in poverty in New Brunswick.

The rise in child poverty rates in 2021 coincided with the discontinuation of COVID-19 income support programs and inflation. The risk of child poverty rates returning to pre-pandemic levels is high because employment earnings and government transfers for low-income families are not keeping up with the cost of living. 

The pandemic presented an opportunity to demonstrate how investment in income support programs can effectively lift people out of poverty by increasing their financial security, socioeconomic well-being, and overall quality of life. However, the goal set by the Canadian House of Commons over three decades ago to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000 remains unmet.

The Human Development Council releases an annual report card in partnership with Campaign 2000 on the state of child and family poverty in New Brunswick. These reports serve as a reminder of a resolution and promise to Canadian children that have not yet been fulfilled.

The 2023 report card is a call to action for policymakers to address the root causes of poverty and implement effective strategies to ensure every child in New Brunswick has the opportunity to thrive.

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