The Kootenay Lake school board is urging action on child poverty, and in a letter addressed to the government they wrote it “is disgraceful that British Columbia has the highest rate of child poverty in Canada and yet is the only province that has not instituted a poverty reduction plan.”
The letter, drafted by board chair Lenora Trenaman and trustee Curtis Bendig, was sent on June 16 to B.C. Premier Christy Clark, Minister of Education Peter Fassbender and Minister of Finance Mike de Jong. It urges them to “move forward and develop a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy with a strong, vibrant public education system as its centrepiece.”
The letter also asked them to enact legislated targets and timelines in conjunction with the implementation of the strategy.
“In addition to this, British Columbia also has amongst the country’s lowest funding per student for our K-12 public education system,” they note.
And according to them, that means students are suffering.
“Our district’s students are not immune to the negative effects of poverty. Indeed the Nelson/Creston electoral district has the second lowest reported income in the province. Every day in our schools we see children whose parents cannot afford to provide them with healthy food, proper winter clothing, school supplies and fees for field trips.”
The letter asserts that the “roots of poverty extend well beyond the walls of School District #8 schools and our community. We know that to significantly improve the educational and life outcomes of our students living in poverty, a broader approach is needed.”
The letter was signed by Trenaman, Kootenay Lake Teachers Federation co-presidents Rebecca Blair and Paul Boscariol, as well as SD8 parent advisory council president Sheri Walsh and Michelle Bennett, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 748.
It closes by asking the government to take a “strong leadership role” by instituting a poverty reduction strategy and investing more funds in education.
“There is no greater trust than that we owe to our children.”