One in 11 Grande Prairie households in Grande Prairie live below the poverty line. That’s one of the shocking stats dug up in a recent report, and on display in one of the recently renovated Mountview duplexes. Lisa Watson with Community Social Development says figuring out who is living poor in Grande Prairie is the first step to addressing the problem.
“It’s helping us move forward with building a poverty reduction strategy for Grande Prairie. It identifies that we need to focus maybe on children and single parents, as well as some of our seniors population; it’s telling us that maybe we need to focus on affordable housing.”
More than one in three single-parent families in GP are poor, and that number increases to more than half if that single parent has three or more children. The overall child poverty rate in 2013 was 12.9 per cent.
Watson says she was surprised to see that people under the age of 24 and over the age of 75 were the most at risk for living in poverty. She was also concerned to learn how long people can go without having money for food, rent and other essentials.
“Individuals that become unemployed sometimes it’s up to two months for they actually see employment income benefits come to them, so for those on EI can sometimes go for two months without having income come in, which can be really stressful on families and individuals.”
The number of people in Grande Prairie applying for income support has increased by 44 per cent since 2015. It’s estimated the cost of poverty for the city each year is over $84 million, including factors like health care and crime.
People can get a better idea of the current situation at an open house this week at 9323B 109 Avenue. It runs from 2 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday. The Poverty Profile can also be viewed online.