End child poverty in Canada now

Posted on in Social Security Debates

TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorials – Twenty-five years after Parliament voted unanimously to end child poverty, the numbers have grown even larger and there’s no excuse for lack of action.
Nov 21 2014

Imagine going to bed hungry, not receiving presents on holidays, being an outcast in gym class because you don’t have runners, or trudging through snow without boots because you don’t own any.
It’s tough.

But for the 967,000 children who were living in poverty in Canada last year it was a daily reality.

That’s one in seven, or 13.3 per cent, of our children. It’s worse in Toronto, where a study released in August found that 29 per cent of children — almost 149,000 — live in poverty, while 15 of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods have child poverty rates of 40 per cent or more.

That’s also the shocking rate of child poverty among our aboriginal population.

And it’s getting worse. Campaign 2000, which tracks the number of children living in poverty in Canada and advocates on their behalf, is set to release its 2014 report on Monday.
The news is grim, the agency says: numbers are up.

This despite the fact that Parliament unanimously voted 25 years ago, on Nov. 24, 1989, to end child poverty by the year 2000. At the time the number of kids living in poverty was actually lower, at 912,000, than it is today.
This has got to stop. And it can.

By any standard, Canada is a rich country.

It is a member of the wealthy nations clubs — the G8 and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development — and ranks 11th out of 186 countries on the UN Human Development Index, which measures standards of living.

So the question is: why is Canada ranked 24th among 35 developed countries by the OECD on child poverty? Or why is it graded at just a C by UNICEF, while smaller economies like Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are consistently ranked with As?

The problem isn’t a lack of money.

It’s a lack of political will on the part of the federal government that could adopt policies the experts say would pull more families out of poverty.

For example, the OECD says increasing child-care spaces eases child poverty by enabling mothers to get a job (38.2 per cent of Ontario children cared for by single mothers are raised in a low-income environment). But in 2006, the Harper government killed a national child-care program that would have provided 635,000 subsidized daycare spaces and replaced it with a taxable $100-per-month child tax credit — which actually benefits the well-off more than the poor.

Cancelling that benefit (since increased to $160), along with two other tax credits beyond the reach of the poor, and redirecting that money to low-income families would have put almost $2,000 a year more into the pockets of the poor in recent years.

Instead, the Harper government has just implemented a vote-buying scheme that promises $26.7 billion over five years in tax breaks and support programs that will disproportionately benefit those who are already doing well. It includes an income-splitting measure that experts say will benefit only about 15 per cent of families, leaving 85 per cent (including the neediest) out in the cold.

A better policy? If the Harper government had even doubled the national child benefit, child poverty could be reduced by 26 per cent, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Or it could focus on what study after study has recommended along with a national child-care program: investing in job training and creating a national affordable housing plan.

Instead, we’re living with a situation documented by Food Banks Canada’s annual HungerCount, which this year found that 37 per cent of the 841,000 people helped by food banks last year were children.

In the absence of national strategies, which international organizations say are fundamental to ending child poverty, provinces and municipalities have been struggling to fill the gap.

Ontario, for example, lifted 47,000 children out of poverty and prevented another 61,000 from falling into it by increasing the Ontario Child Benefit to $1,310 a year from $250 a year in 2007.

But they can’t do it alone.

Twenty-five years after Parliament voted to end child poverty, an entire generation of children has grown up in need. Canada’s federal government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to them. It must commit to ending child poverty now — as other countries have.

They have the know-how and the means. There’s no excuse — just a lack of will.

< http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2014/11/21/end_child_poverty_in_canada_now_editorial.html >

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4 Responses to “End child poverty in Canada now”

  1. Maria says:

    Sunt interesata sa msnecuc si sa studiez in Canada as vrea sa stiu care sunt posibilitatile si costul real pentru asta.Exista vreo sansa sa pot face asta?Multumesc[BRGWORK] Buna Carmen, te rugam sa revizuiesti informatia de aici, ai toate costurile publicate:

  2. Courtney says:

    I am in complete disheartened agreement to the editorial, End Child Poverty in Canada Now, posted on Friday, November 21st. Campaign 2000 is nothing more than lofty political rhetoric, and in the past 25-years, increasingly so. It is a destination without realistic and effective means of arrival. Who (in their right mind) wouldn’t have voted to end child poverty, either then or now? A unanimous vote in Parliament seems to result in little more than a diffusion of responsibility. Canada has money; we have the means to eradicate child poverty, and poverty altogether, yet we seem to lack the willingness to exhibit any thing more than an arbitrary signature. Our policies serve only to maintain the current status quo, and continue to polarize our economic classes, pushing families and children further into poverty. The correlation between poverty and health has been well established, we know poverty dictates health, and we also know what a healthy workforce holds the means to the future productivity and innovation of our workforce. We should be afraid, afraid of our lack of response, of our future economic wellbeing as a country, and within the global economy. We should be afraid of what it will mean if we do not respond NOW. We need universal, systemic policy changes, and we need to develop the means to implement and measure these policies, all the while keeping Parliament accountable for where they sign their names. Political affiliation aside, Campaign strategies must do more than label and bandaid child poverty; they must actually address it.

    In mutual disgust.

  3. Ashley Rich says:

    Letter to the Editor,
    Re: The Star: End child poverty in Canada now
    The author of this article brings to you’re the amount of child poverty there is in Canada and how little is being done by the government to help render this problem. The author points out that last year alone 967,000 children were living in poverty in Canada and this number is expected to be higher in the Campaign 2000 report that is to be released on Monday December 1st 2014.
    Despite the fact that Parliament unanimously voted 25 years ago, yesterday, to end child poverty by the year 2000, the number of kids living in poverty today is drastically higher than it was in 1989 at 912,000.This has got to stop. And it can if the government begins to take the action that was promised 25 years ago.
    Canada is considered a rich country, it is part of the wealthy nations clubs and ranks 11th out of 186 countries on the UN Human Development Index, which measures standards of living. Yet we are ranked 24th among 35 developed countries by the OECD on child poverty and graded a C by UNICEF, while smaller economies like Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are consistently ranked with As. This is obviously not a lack of money but a lack of initiative by the government to stop child poverty. The government has provided little support to families that are living in poverty and have taken away much of the support that has been promised to the country such as national child-care program that would have provided 635,000 subsidized daycare spaces and replaced it with a taxable $100-per-month child tax credit.
    If little support for Canadians living in poverty continues we are going to keep seeing the numbers of children living in poverty rise each year and the demand on each community for more community supports such as food banks, shelters, and subsidized housing coasting the government more money in the long.

  4. Melissa says:

    WAS GOING TO WRITE A REPLY TO THIS ARTICLE BUT IM TOOO ANGRY…. GET IT TOGETHER HARPER!

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