Report indicates low-income families still struggling in Abbotsford

Income for single-parent families in Abbotsford-Mission is behind provincial and national levels

  • Oct. 2, 2013 10:00 a.m.

Low-income families and youth continue to struggle economically in Abbotsford, according to Abbotsford’s Vital Signs Report.

The report found a disparity between the annual living wage for a family of four with two parents working in the Fraser Valley of $59,569 and the amount two parents working full time earning the minimum wage would make, which is $37,310, according to the report produced by the Abbotsford Community Foundation (ACF).

Income for single parent families in Abbotsford-Mission is behind provincial and national levels.

In 2010 in the Abbotsford-Mission Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), the median after-tax income of single parent families was $31,670, up by a slight 1.6 per cent from $31,170 in 2009.

The 2010 level was below the national level of $35,690 and below the provincial level of $34,000.  There are 7,160 – 15 per cent of census families – lone parent families in Abbotsford-Mission.

Approximately 3,000 people a month receive food from the Abbotsford Food Bank and of those 40 per cent are children, higher than the provincial average of 29.5 per cent. In Abbotsford, 18 per cent of food bank clients are working adults, compared with 11.4 per cent in B.C. and 11.7 per cent in Canada.

“Our youth unemployment rate continues to be too high,” said Susan McAlevy, executive director of ACF.  “In 2012, the youth (15 – 24 years old) unemployment rate in Abbotsford-Mission (CMA) was 14.5 per cent.  Up one per cent from the year before and slightly higher than the national and provincial youth unemployment rates.”

There are 1,166 licensed day care spaces for children under 5 in Abbotsford, and 8,530 children under that age.

“While much of this can be attributed to these children being cared for parents and family members, we suspect for low income families that the average fees of $600 to $900 per month would be a barrier to having young children in licensed daycare facilities. We have no way of knowing how many unlicensed day care spaces there are in Abbotsford,” said McAlevy.

In Abbotsford-Mission in 2012, 42.6 per cent of people 15 and older had received post-secondary education.

The national average is higher, at 53.6 per cent, as is the provincial average of 52.7 per cent.

But the Abbotsford School District’s completion rate is higher than the provincial average. In Abbotsford in 2010-11, the percentage of all students who graduated from high school within six years of starting Grade 8 was 88.6 per cent, while provincially, the percentage was 80.3.

In 2011, the median amount of charitable donations in Abbotsford-Mission was $630, the highest median rate in Canada. The national level is $260 and the provincial level is $370.

Respondents were asked what the most important issues facing Abbotsford today, with 18 per cent stating it was cost of living, 17 per cent stating employment opportunities, 10 per cent stating homelessness.

When asked about the best thing about Abbotsford, 25 per cent said the natural environment, followed by sense of community with 16 per cent.

Abbotsford is among more than 20 community foundations across Canada that produced a Vital Sign report.