TORONTO, Feb. 12, 2014 /CNW/ - The 2014 Federal Budget has no clear
strategies to address Canada's 14.3% child poverty rate and is out of
step with Canadian values of caring about our neighbours' children.
"Canadians are deeply committed to their communities and neighbours and
they understand that eradicating child poverty is a collective
responsibility," said Laurel Rothman, National Coordinator of Campaign
2000. "In this federal budget, government fails to play a leadership
role in implementing policies that can improve the lives of over
967,000 children living in poverty in Canada. Campaign 2000 urges the
government to dedicate half of the $6.5 billion projected surplus for
2015 to poverty reduction this year. Children and families in poverty
should not be forced to wait for action that secures their basic
While the government states that the 2014 Federal Budget demonstrates it
is fiscally responsible, Campaign 2000 notes that poverty costs Canada
significantly. "Failing to address poverty adds up to a $86.1 billion
annual price tag that is paid by Canadians," said First Call: BC Child
and Youth Advocacy Coalition's Adrienne Montani. "When government
ignores poverty, there are significant lost opportunities for low
income children whose education, health and employment prospects are
jeopardized by poverty. Evidence also shows that Canada's dramatic
underinvestment in early childhood education and care is squeezing
young families and undermining our future prosperity."
Canada needs a dedicated federal action plan to eradicate poverty that
is guided by targets and timelines and invests in the potential of low
income children. "Such a plan should include enhancing child benefits
for low income children up to $5,400 per child, building a system of
high quality early childhood education and childcare, investing in
affordable housing and secure employment," noted Rothman. Budget
proposals should be amended to address disparities created by income
inequality in addition to geographical location. Rothman urges that
"Enhanced access to high speed internet should be expanded from
targeting rural areas to targeting all low income children who have
less access to internet-based educational opportunities at home than
their higher income classmates."
Campaign 2000 also notes that the budget does not outline specific
employment programs that can assist low income families wanting to
leave poverty behind. "One in three children living in poverty in
Canada has a parent who works full time, full year," said Dr. Sid
Frankel, University of Manitoba Faculty of Social Work. "Rather than
ensuring 'work' works for families, the government is eliminating
funding for Labour Market Agreements, which support labour market entry
for vulnerable populations without enough of a work history to be
eligible for Employment Insurance. In addition, the Canada Jobs Grant
exclusively serves the training needs of employers, and not the needs
of low wage rate workers to improve their earning potential. The
proposed youth employment measures will only impact a fraction of the
young people seeking economic security."
Furthermore, low income Canadians are left out of the budget's measures
to address affordability, such as the proposed price parity between the
United States and Canada. "Long range programs to equalize costs in
Canada and the U.S. will not have a major impact on low income families
who struggle to feed, clothe and shelter their children. Families who
face unemployment, eroding Employment Insurance benefits or who
struggle to make ends meet in precarious work do not go to the USA to
shop because they simply can't afford to. Low income families need
government to take steps that will improve their incomes to ensure
their children never go to school hungry," added Frankel.
Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan, cross-Canada coalition of over 120
organizations committed to ending child & family poverty in Canada. www.campaign2000.ca
SOURCE: Campaign 2000
For further information:
Anita Khanna, Ontario Campaign 2000. cell 416 788 3439.
Sid Frankel, University of Manitoba Faculty of Social Work. Tel: 204 261-3749 and cell 204 295-3749.
Adrienne Montani, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. Tel: 604-873-8437.
Liyu Guo, Campaign 2000 and Family Service Toronto. Cell: 416-624-1885.