Statistics show city lagging in areas of childcare, employment and affordable shelter

Together Nelson, launched late last year, was put together to assess and understand what the issue of poverty was in the city, and compile a four-year action plan to address the city’s needs — to be released later this year.

But what it has found was a wide gap in the provision of childcare in the city. There needs to be three times as many childcare spaces in Nelson for the service to even address half of the need, according Together Nelson roundtable findings.

Currently, there are 378 licenced childcare spaces in Nelson, including areas E and F of the regional district. However, there needs to be 863 additional spaces in order to hit a target of 55 per cent coverage. Sixty four spaces have been approved and are being created in 2021.

“The potential for increased availability of universal quality childcare will help address this gap,” noted the report from Together Nelson.

Nearly one third of Nelson children live in low-income households, almost 10 per cent higher than the provincial rate (18.5 per cent) and the federal one (18.2 per cent).

The three R’s

The number of child early development index “vulnerabilities” is on the increase in the city, according to the roundtable.

Drawing from a School District No. 8 study — for Nelson only — it was found the early development index (EDI) was rising while for the rest of the district it was decreasing.

EDI is a regular assessment of children’s readiness to learn, examining “developmental vulnerabilities” in five areas; language/literacy; numeracy; physical; socio-emotional; and cognitive development.

“Quality early childhood experience is known to improve EDI scores and life course success,” the roundtable found.

As well, the city’s graduation rate has also decreased in the last three years from 86 per cent in 2017/18 to 83 per cent last year, with a post secondary education rate in the population at 22 per cent, three per cent lower than the B.C. average.

Making it work

Last year the unemployment rate in the city nearly doubled.

Between August 2019 and August 2020 the unemployment rate rose from six per cent to 11.3 per cent, with the majority of employees in Nelson working part time (64 per cent) and the remainder working full time (36 per cent).

Within the ranks of the employed, the largest population is in sales and service roles (23 per cent). Healthcare and social services follow at 15 per cent, while retail trade (13 per cent) and construction (nine per cent) round out the top industries. Five per cent of workers are in arts/culture or recreation/sport roles, according to the roundtable findings.

Over 1,400 people received employment insurance in 2018 and 679 people received social or disability assistance in 2019.

According to Statistics Canada for June the unemployment rate has increased to 13.1 per cent for the Southern Interior region, which includes Nelson.

A healthy attitude

Over one third of the city’s residents are not attached to a general practitioner (or nurse practitioner) and almost one third of the city is not attached to a health care practice.

That’s a five per cent higher rate of non-attachment to a health care practice than surrounding communities such as Arrow Lakes, Castlegar, Kootenay Lake and Trail.Home work

Nearly one half of renter households in Nelson spend more than one third of their income on rent and heat, with over one fifth (21 per cent) of home owners in that same category.

Around one third (31 per cent) of single parent households live in unaffordable situations where they pay more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter.

Although 61 per cent of households own their home, over half (54 per cent) of Nelson’s Indigenous community members rent their homes.

There were 132 people identified as homeless (unsheltered, emergency sheltered, or provisionally accommodated) during the last homeless count (April, 2019), including accompanying dependent children:
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