FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s child and youth advocate is painting a grim picture of life for many children in the province, but Norm Bosse is also offering a solution.

The Office of the Child, Youth and Seniors' Advocate released its 11th State-of-the-Child report Wednesday morning and made only one recommendation.

It suggests that the province take all measures possible to ensure children in schools are made aware of their rights.

The report, which used food-insecure households as a marker for poverty in its data collection, revealed a quarter of New Brunswick children currently live in poverty.

"I feel like at times students are embarrassed to admit that they don't have a lunch," said student Ruhamma Zaheeb. "So our school has taken a big step to solve that issue and I think that all the other schools need to follow in their footsteps."

From the report came other troubling statistics as well, including:

  • 81 per cent of youth living in poverty don't feel they're treated the same as others in their community
  • 70 per cent of youth in poverty reported being bullied
  • 54 per cent of youth in poverty feel socially excluded altogether

"Reducing poverty, it's not an easy thing to do, and it has to start at home," said Bosse. "When children are in broken homes, parents are not working, or they're drug dependent or whatever it is, that causes poverty."

According to the report, children suffering from the greatest vulnerabilities are students within the LGBTQ+ communities and children living in poverty, followed closely by students with special needs and indigenous youth.

"All of this poverty causes other social problems so we have to go right to the root of it and that's right there in the home," Bosse said.

Half of the youth surveyed also reported they have no one to look up to.

Bosse says legislative changes are needed to put children's rights at the forefront.

"There are major changes coming in the department of social development which will mean there are better protections for children," Bosse said. "I'm hoping by next year this time, or close to next year this time, that they'll have a standalone child protection legislation."

With his term finishing in 2020, this will be Bosse's last State-of-the-Child report as New Brunswick's child and youth advocate.