Child poverty key issue

TheProvince.com – business
January 11, 2012.    Postmedia News

If governments want to put the economy at the top of their agendas, actions that focus on improving children’s’ well-being should be prioritized, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Canadian Pediatric Society said that child care, mental health and poverty are some of the key areas related to kids for which there are clear economic benefits to be had by taking action.

“Investments in the early years pay big dividends . . . in the future in terms of [minimizing the number of ] people who can’t be gainfully employed or have mental-heath issues or contact with the criminal justice system,” said Dr. Andrew Lynk, vice-president of the group, which represents children’s health-care professionals across the country.

Instead, he said the opposite has happened in recent years as youth issues have been pushed aside by governments in order to deal with the economy and Canada’s aging population.

The report cited a study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives showing B.C. loses up to $9 billion a year in economic activity from child poverty, yet a “comprehensive program to reduce poverty would cost between $3 billion and $4 billion per year.”

The report noted how the federal Parliament unanimously voted in 1989 to eradicate child poverty by 2000.

Instead, the rate was reduced from 11.8 per cent then to 9.5 per cent as of 2009, it said.

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