Use Surplus to Reduce Poverty and Spur Spending - that's a Smart Action Plan

OTTAWA, Nov. 26, 2013 /CNW/ - Federal leadership to lift children out of poverty, prevent middle-class families from falling into poverty and to prevent Canadians from plunging into deeper poverty must be part of Canada's economic action plan, says Campaign 2000's new report card on child and family poverty.

Canada's Real Economic Action Plan Begins with Poverty Eradication looks at the nation's most recent child and family poverty statistics and finds that 967,000 children and their families lived in poverty (2011 LIM after-tax).  The child poverty rate of 14.3 per cent - about 1 in 7 children - is higher than the 1989 rate of 13.7 per cent, when all MPs committed to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000.  For Canada's indigenous children the situation is dire: 4 out of 10 live in poverty.  Lessons from past economic cycles tell us that poverty eradication needs a multi-year commitment and dedicated resources to achieve sustained progress, especially in periods of slow economic growth.

"The babies born in 1989 when all MPs voted to end child poverty in Canada are now grown up and see the broken promise of ending child poverty affecting their own children. They're asking why the federal government isn't acting to end child poverty in Canada," said Laurel Rothman, National Coordinator of Campaign 2000.  "There are several compelling reasons to act now.  First, poverty is expensive for all of us.  In this time of slow and slowing economic growth, raising the incomes of those at the bottom improves purchasing power, benefits businesses and strengthens the economy. It's a win-win-win."

"Second, Canada can afford to spend," Rothman added.  "In each of the past two years there has been a multi-billion dollar surplus as budget allocations were not spent while children had to resort to food banks and rely on homeless shelters.  The Finance Minister also projects a $10 billion surplus by 2018-19, so there's room to spend wisely.  Child poverty is too costly and leads to diseases throughout the life cycle."

"Third, we know what needs to be done from the numerous reports by governments, non-governmental organizations, academics and from insights shared by people who have experienced poverty.  If the costs of poverty are ignored, this constitutes nothing less than mismanagement of the economy for which we will all continue to pay in financial and other costs.  Now is the time for the federal government to take the lead," Rothman concludes.

"The evidence is clear and convincing that a child's economic status is a key determinant of educational success.  Recent research has confirmed that children in poverty are much less likely to achieve positive educational outcomes.  To reduce growing inequality and improve economic mobility, better educational opportunities from birth through the post-secondary stage are essential. The more progress we can make on reducing poverty, the better it will be for Canada's children and for all of us,' commented Dianne Woloschuk, President of the Canadian Teachers' Federation.

"Child poverty is a concern for all Canadians," said Dr. Andrew Lynk, President of the Canadian Paediatric Society.  "It directly impacts our social well-being and future prosperity as a nation.  Poverty is an opportunity killer.  It is a direct cause of future ill-health and unnecessary healthcare costs.  With smart, strong federal, provincial and local leadership, we can do better.  Much better."

"Many of the provinces and a few municipalities 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."

This annual Campaign 2000 report card sets out practical actions the Canadian government can take now that would reduce our child poverty rate by fifteen percent and also highlights the need for a national strategy on affordable housing, as well as a plan for a public system of high quality early childhood education and childcare services that are affordable and available to all children (0 - 12 years).

"The reality is, child poverty is persistent even among families where both parents work full-time," adds Rothman. "This is particularly true in Canada's urban centres where low-wage jobs and the high cost of housing leave families struggling to get by.  Thirty-six per cent of food bank users are now children although they are only twenty per cent of the population."

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

For more information please contact: Laurel Rothman, (416, by cell 416-575-9230 or 416 595-9230, ext. 228 or Liyu Guo, by cell 416 624-1885 or 416-595-9230, ext. 244)

BACKGROUNDER

Highlights from Canada's Real Economic Action Plan Begins with Poverty Eradication

  • Public policies do reduce poverty.  An enhanced child benefit of up to $5,400 would bring the child poverty rate down by 15% and lift 174,000 children out of poverty.
  • Canada still needs that national childcare program.  There are still only enough regulated child care spaces to cover about 20% of children aged 0 - 12 years.
  • Poverty affects people differently: Children in racialized, recent immigrant and indigenous families as well as children with disabilities are at greater risk of living in poverty, fostering persistent social and economic inequality.
  • Canada is not meeting the housing needs of families.  One in two families with annual incomes under $30,350 live in inadequate, unsuitable and/or unaffordable housing.

Provincial Report Cards on Child and Family Poverty are also being released today in BC, Alberta (both Edmonton and Calgary), Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. All reports available at www.campaign2000.ca.

Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan, cross-Canada network of 120 national, provincial and community partner organizations committed to working to end child and family poverty.

SOURCE: Campaign 2000

For further information:

Laurel Rothman - National Coordinator, Campaign 2000; Liyu Guo, Program Assistant, Campaign 2000
Provincial Report Card contacts:  -
B.C. - First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition - Adrienne Montani 604-873-8437; Alberta - John Kolkman, Edmonton Social Planning Council 780-423-2031 x350 and 587-989-4442 (cell); Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Public Interest Alberta 780-420-0471 and 780-993-3736 (cell); Ontario - Anita Khanna, Ontario Campaign 2000 (416) 595-9230 ext. 241 or 416 783-3439 (cell); New Brunswick - Randy Hatfield, Human Development Council 506-636-8540 or 506 - 645-1145 (cell); Nova Scotia - Lesley Frank, 902-585-1431 or 902-698-3653 (cell)


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