The Burnaby Teachers' Association has been circulating a petition at local schools, calling on the province and civic governments to work together to come up with a poverty reduction plan for children.
"Teachers on the ground are frustrated, they are trying to fill in the gaps," said association president James Sanyshyn, who's planning to deliver the petition to Burnaby city hall soon.
According to Sanyshyn, there are several poverty reduction plans in Canada, but the provincial government hasn't been interested in one for B.C. Meanwhile, child poverty is painfully evident in Burnaby schools.
"(Teachers) go out an buy used clothing and leave it in the coat room, so when kids come to school without a winter coat, they can use one of the coats the teacher bought for them. Teachers give up parts of their lunches when kids come to school and haven't eaten," Sanyshyn said.
Problems like homelessness and "underhousing" are also part of the problem in Burnaby.
"We have 13, 14 people living in one-and two-bedroom apartments in the Edmonds corridor as refugees," Sanyshyn said. "Most of us are not unaware of those things, but it puts a strain on kids who are trying to come to school and learn, when they don't have things to wear and they don't have food to eat."
According to an annual report from First Call, B.C. has the second highest poverty rate in the country, next to Manitoba. Based on the latest data from Statistics Canada, B.C.'s child poverty rate was 14.3 per cent, slightly higher than the Canadian average of 13.7 per cent. First Call, a coalition of B.C. groups, called on the provincial government to adopt a comprehensive plan for reducing B.C.'s child poverty rate. The coalition's report also recommended indexing the minimum wage, welfare rates and child tax benefits, as well as providing accessible child care and affordable post secondary education.