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Child poverty rate unknown

Jennifer McPhee
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 03/01) - While one-in-five Canadian children live in poverty, the number of needy children in Nunavut remains an unknown.

In a report released last week, a national organization said child poverty has increased across the country since 1989.

That was the year the federal government pledged to eradicate the problem by the year 2000.

Campaign 2000 found child poverty has increased 39 per cent since 1989.

The report used data from Statistics Canada. However, Statistics Canada, (until the yet-to-be-released last census) did not collect figures in the territories or on reserves.

Mark MacKay, senior policy analyst for income support programs in Nunavut, said the government does not keep statistics on poverty, nor does it have an official definition of child poverty.

He did say 3,100 people are on social assistance each month. Of those 1,200 are single and 1,900 are in families.

Jack Hicks, director of evaluation of statistics for the Nunavut government, said measuring poverty rates in a place like Nunavut is more complex than in the south.

"It's something we would like to know more about in a statistical sense, but it's a huge challenge," said Hicks.

Hicks said many people in Nunavut who could not survive on the amount of actual money they have.

"But they live in a highly subsidized society and therefore things are provided to them in a subsidized way," he said.

"Measuring all that is extremely complicated."