Increase to the Nova Scotia Child Benefit

Words on a textbook page with the word policy highlighted

We are pleased to learn that Nova Scotia is increasing its Nova Scotia Child Benefit (NSCB) effective July 1, 2022. We welcome this increase that will serve to put much-needed additional money in the pockets of thousands of Nova Scotian families struggling to both make ends meet and put food on the table.

We are also aware that Nova Scotia has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest rates in Atlantic Canada and the third-highest provincial child poverty rate in Canada. Almost one in every four children (41,230 children) are living in poverty in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia is experiencing almost 9% inflation in food prices year over year. Inadequate income and the rising cost of living have put further pressure on low-income Nova Scotians. The percentage of new clients visiting our food banks has climbed to six or seven percent versus three to five percent in previous years. This indicates increasing pressures that push people to access food support.

To reduce the child and overall food insecurity, critical social policy levers are needed that target the grassroots factors of food insecurity, including income, housing, and prescription medication costs. Evidence suggests that child benefits are among effective policy levers that can reduce severe food insecurity. That’s why increases in NSCB are crucial. While the current $350 increase in NSCB is a step in the right direction, much more investment is necessary to address the massive scope of the problem.

Income support amounts in Nova Scotia left couples with two children $16,054 below the poverty line in 2020. Our recent survey found almost 70% of the surveyed food bank clients receiving income support stated that an increase of $500 to $1,000 per month is necessary to help them get by.

The policymakers have the power to create bold, life-changing social policies. Unless social policies strongly target the root causes of poverty and food insecurity, including income, housing, and prescription medication costs, Nova Scotia will continue to have the highest rates of child poverty and the highest rate of food insecurity in Canada.