Government of Canada MIA on child poverty: Report

TORONTO, Nov. 21, 2012 /CNW/ - More Canadian children live in poverty today than in 1989 and the federal government is missing in action, says Laurel Rothman, National Coordinator for Campaign 2000.

Twenty-three years after the House of Commons unanimously voted to work together to eliminate child poverty the crisis is worse. Today, one in seven Canadian children live in poverty - one in four in First Nation's communities - a reality that threatens our country's future through higher healthcare costs, lost productivity and limited opportunities.

"Many of the provinces and a few municipalities have recognized the critical need to take action and have developed their own poverty reduction strategies. Thanks to their efforts we're beginning to see some improvements in those jurisdictions," says Rothman. "But they can't do it alone. Without a coordinated federal action plan that sets out clear goals and provides the necessary resources the crisis of child poverty will continue."

With the release of their annual report card entitled Needed: A Federal Action Plan to Eradicate Child and Family Poverty, Campaign 2000 sets out practical actions the Canadian government can take now that would reduce our child poverty rate by fifteen percent.

"Right now the federal government oversees a hodgepodge of family tax credits meant to help low and middle income families," says Dr. Sid Frankel, associate professor of social work at the University of Manitoba. "Applying for these tax credits can be complicated and require up front expenditures that low income families don't have, as a result those that need the credits most go without. The current credits also require multiple layers of administration, increasing costs for the government. If the federal government streamlined all current family and child tax credits into one, dispersed on a sliding scale based on income to a maximum of $5,400 per year, 174,000 children would be lifted out of poverty."

The report also highlights the need for a national strategy on good jobs and affordable housing, as well as greater investment in regulated, not-for-profit childcare as critical to building a strong future for all Canadian families.

"The reality is, child poverty is persistent even among families where both parents work full-time," say Anita Khanna, Ontario Coordinator for Campaign 2000. "This is particularly true in Canada's urban centers where low-wage jobs and the high cost of housing leave families struggling to get by.  38% of foodbank users are now children."

For a full copy of the report visit: campaign2000.ca

Provincial report cards on child poverty are also being released today in British Columbia and New Brunswick, and was released in Alberta on November 20th.

SOURCE: Campaign 2000

For further information:

Media contacts: Sarah Jordison, 416.578.5638 or Anita Khanna, 416.788.3439

Also available for comment: French spokesperson and mothers with lived experiences of poverty.