Child poverty crusade – comment/editorial – Child poverty crusade
June 02, 2008

The late June Callwood was a tireless activist who until her death last year fought and won many battles. Her last great crusade was to eradicate child poverty in Canada.

So it is fitting that her birthday today has been declared June Callwood Children’s Day in Ontario. As Premier Dalton McGuinty sees it, we should take the opportunity “to commit ourselves to action.”

However, a recent report from Statistics Canada reveals that this country has a dismal record of missed opportunities on the child poverty front.

Canada’s child poverty rate puts us 19th among 26 developed nations. Despite sustained economic growth since the mid-90s, 872,000 children, or 13 per cent, were living below StatsCan’s low-income line – the same rate as in 1989. That’s the year the House of Commons unanimously vowed to eradicate child poverty by the year 2000.

Poverty among children in Canada is not only a disgrace but also has consequences for all society. It leads to a higher risk of health problems, developmental delays and behaviour disorders.

Countries like Ireland and the United Kingdom have shown that, when governments commit to reducing child poverty, progress can be made quickly.

To his credit, McGuinty has appointed Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Matthews to head a cabinet committee charged with putting together a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy by the end of the year. She is currently touring the province seeking input. We look forward to her strategy.

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