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'Non-taxable child benefits are the most effective way to reduce poverty,' new report says
CBC News Posted: Feb 09, 2017 4:39 PM MT Last Updated: Feb 09, 2017 4:39 PM MT
New child tax benefits from the provincial and federal governments are cited as a "game changers" for ending child poverty in a new report released Thursday by the Edmonton Social Planning Council.
A Profile of Poverty in Edmonton suggests the Alberta Child Benefit and the Canada Child Benefit will have a direct impact on families.
"Non-taxable child benefits are the most effective way to reduce poverty because they put money directly into the pockets of low-income families," the report states.
The report says that in 2014, 17.8 per cent of children in Edmonton — 34,220 kids ages 0 to 17 — lived in low-income families.
A family with two children making $30,000 a year will receive an additional $4,300 a year from the Canada Child Benefit and the Alberta Child Benefit.
The Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit also helps, the report says. The credit is given to low-income working families. The maximum benefit for a working family with two children is $1,457 a year.
The benefits mean the living wage calculated by the Edmonton Social Planning Council is lower for lone- and two-parent families in 2016 compared to the previous year.
Three years after the creation of the first task force and three months after getting a multi-million dollar investment from city council EndPovertyEdmonton held its first event to release new information on poverty in the city Thursday.
The new anti-poverty organization has set itself the ambitious goal of lifting 10,000 Edmontonians out of poverty in the next five years, and co-chair Bishop Jane Alexander said the data shows a coordinated approach will be needed.
“All these people saying this is our bit, we can do this and make a difference,” Alexander said, looking around the event that drew representatives from two levels of government and organizations from around the city. “Now it’s more than just a hope, it’s a certainty that we are moving on this."
Still, the numbers, compiled by the Edmonton Social Planning Council, paint a picture of poverty as a persistent issue in the city that hasn’t been helped by a changing economic climate.
BY CLAIRE THEOBALD | FIRST POSTED: MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2016 04:36 PM MST | UPDATED: MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2016 04:46 PM MST
Poverty in our community can be hard to see, but it's even harder for thousands of impoverished families in Edmonton to escape.
In Edmonton alone, nearly one in five children live in poverty. That's more than 32,000 children living in situations where even basic necessities can be out of reach.
While it might be easy to try to blame the issue on irresponsible parents, a tough economic climate in Alberta has shown just how dangerously close many working families are to sliding over the poverty line.
In November alone, Alberta lost 13,000 jobs. With 11,000 more people looking for work, Alberta's unemployment rate reached nine per cent, the highest it's been since 1994.
Between December 2014 and April 2016, 3,853 oil and gas extraction jobs were lost in Alberta, with another 29,196 positions in careers supporting oil and gas extraction slashed as gas prices continue to languish.
Employment insurance benefits were extended to help lessen the blow, but good jobs have been slow to return.
Even for those lucky enough to hold onto their jobs over the Christmas season, many working families still don't have the resources they need to cover the costs of their basic needs.
Nearly a quarter of Alberta's labour force is employed in low-wage jobs earning less than $16 per hour, and well over half of those low-wage earners are older than 25.
In order to be able to afford a basic standard of living in Edmonton, the Edmonton Social Planning Council estimates that two working adults caring for two children would each have to earn at least $17.36 per hour — and that's with government support factored in.
Nearly 60 per cent of children living in poverty in Alberta have at least one adult working full time in their household.
By Madeleine Cummings
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 9:40:41 MST AM
A new documentary aims to start discussions about social housing in Edmonton.
McCauley, an inner-city neighbourhood northeast of downtown, has a disproportionately high percentage of social housing. More than half of housing in the area is below market-rate.
Paula Kirman, the editor of Boyle McCauley News, spent a year interviewing 25 people for McCauley: A Caring Community — Conversations on Social Housing. Her goal was to dispel myths about social housing and determine what makes a caring community.
“It was really necessary to have a video that could be taken around the community groups to foster discussions about social housing and why it needs to be a city-wide responsibility,” she said.
Interviewees in the film speak highly of McCauley’s inclusivity and the benefits of having social housing nearby.
At the same time, community leaders in McCauley argue that other neighbourhoods could stand to follow McCauley’s lead.
“Arguably, when 60 per cent of housing in a neighbourhood is non-market housing, we’ve kind of achieved a threshold which is too much,” said Phil O’Hara, a longtime resident and president of the McCauley Community League, in the film.
“I feel a lot of pressure to make sure that we do what we can as a city to relieve the burden McCauley has faced over the years for being the host community for a lot of social issues in Edmonton,” said city councillor Scott McKeen, who was also interviewed in the film.
According to a report released by the Edmonton Community Foundation and Edmonton Social Planning Council, 41 per cent of renters in Edmonton live in unaffordable housing, paying more than 30 per cent of their household income on housing costs in 2016.
This year's Vital Signs report sheds light on changing Edmonton demographics.
We're young, pet-friendly and having a rough time with the economy.
Alex Boyd | Metro | Oct 6 2016
More immigration, more women, more dogs—the face of Edmonton is changing, as illustrated by this year’s Vital Signs report.
The changes are "a nod to the fact that our whole structure is changing,” said Elizabeth Bonkink, with the Edmonton Community Foundation, which produces the report every year.
Bonkink points out that women outnumbering men may have something to do with the oil downturn, but there’s larger forces at work, too.
“When you look at Edmonton’s demographics, you’ll notice that most people don’t have children, so the whole way we live our lives is changing,” she said.
“Originally life was around the family and having lots of kids to help the farm grow. But in recent years there’s a lot more singles and a lot more couples living together without children.”