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Canada  

Kids 1/4 of those in poverty

Nikkie Edwards and her boyfriend make about $31,000 a year, a sum that leaves them below the poverty line as defined by Statistics Canada — and in the company of another 4.8 million people, according to the latest census numbers released Wednesday.

Of those, 1.2 million Canadians are children under 18 — including their 10-month-old daughter, Isabelle.

The agency defines the so-called low-income measure, or LIM, as household earnings of less than half the national median income — $22,133 for a single person, or $38,335 for a family of three — as part of its latest glimpse into life in poverty in Canada.

But the measure is not a perfect way of determining the poverty threshold, in part because it can't take into account the often complex financial circumstances many families are forced into: Edwards, for instance, lives rent-free with her boyfriend's parents.

But the newest census data, based on tax information from 2015, the most recent year available, forms a baseline for the federal Liberal government, which has vowed to slash child poverty, reduce inequality and find a way to help parents like Edwards obtain better child care.

Internal government estimates pegged this year's child poverty rate at between 11.7 and 13 per cent, based on the LIM. Data for this year to measure the impact of the Liberal's $23-billion-a-year child benefit program won't be available for at least three more years.

"There have been positive steps, as well as positive signals of what is planned to address child poverty, but there is unfinished business," said Anita Khanna, national co-ordinator of Campaign 2000, which pushes governments to eradicate child poverty in Canada.

It has been 28 years since the House of Commons vowed in 1989 to end child poverty by the year 2000.

Statistics Canada reported that in 2015, 17 per cent of Canadian children under age 18 lived in low-income households, a figure that has stayed virtually unchanged for a decade even as median incomes have steadily gone up across the country.

In seven of Canada's biggest cities, one in every five children was living in a low-income household in 2015.

Moreover, children in lone-parent households were three-and-a-half times more likely to live in poverty than their counterparts in two-parent families, even as the number of low-income, single-parents has declined since the late 1990s.

Meanwhile, the percentage of seniors living in poverty rose between 2005 and 2015, when 14.5 per cent of Canadians over 65 were living below the low-income measure, an increase from the 12 per cent recorded in 2005.



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