TORONTO, Nov. 24, 2014 /CNW/ - Twenty five years after committing to end child poverty, Canada has a child poverty crisis. Child poverty is worse today than in 1989, the year all parties in the House of Commons unanimously pledged to eliminate it by the year 2000, says Laurel Rothman, National Coordinator for Campaign 2000.
"It is shameful that a full generation of children has grown up in the shadow of this unfulfilled commitment. The latest statistics show that over 1.3 million children - 1 in 5 - live in poverty. It is particularly disturbing that 4 in 10 Indigenous children live in low-income families.
"Child poverty continues to deny children safety and opportunity due to a lack of political will. Canada needs to use the fiscal surplus to erase our social deficit. Implementing a plan to eradicate poverty with targets and timelines is the place to start. Federal action against child poverty requires targeted investments in the National Child Benefit, a system of high quality, affordable childcare services and housing strategies to prevent the hunger, anxiety and illness that too many children experience as a result of poverty," Rothman says.
Ed Broadbent, chair of the board of the Broadbent Institute, notes that when the motion to end child poverty by the year 2000 was passed in 1989, "the 11-year timetable was realistic, the goal reachable, and politicians seemed prepared to act. But Canada failed to meet the challenge. A quarter of a century later, our child poverty rate is a national disgrace."
With the release of their annual report cards, National and Ontario Campaign 2000 chronicle the state of child poverty in Canada in 2014 and set out practical actions the federal and Ontario governments can immediately take to eradicate child poverty in Canada.
"While Ontario's child poverty rate is higher than in 1989, the 2008 Poverty Reduction Strategy did reduce the number of children in poverty for three years in a row, largely due to increases in the minimum wage and Ontario Child Benefit. Children in poverty today need the Ontario government to build on this progress. The government needs to set clear targets and timelines to end child poverty and homelessness so that today's children and future generations are not robbed of their potential by massive inequality and poverty," says Anita Khanna, Ontario Campaign 2000 Coordinator.
"We can fix child poverty in Canada," says Rothman. "Providing good jobs and decent wages, targeting income transfers to those most in need, and bolstering supports to families can improve Canada's social and economic future. Since 2005, we have seen movement by the provinces and municipalities towards poverty reduction efforts, but we need all levels of government at the table to get this right. Canada needs a national anti-poverty strategy from the federal government."
"With over 310,000 Canadian children using food banks each month, growing income inequality and rising childcare and tuition costs, we can't afford to delay any longer. We need real progress, for real people, now," says Khanna.
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. For Campaign 2000's 2014 report cards, visit http://www.campaign2000.ca
Media Conference: November 24, Queen's Park Media Studio, Room 148 at 9:30 am.
Laurel Rothman, National Coordinator, Campaign 2000
Léonie Tchatat, Directrice Générale, La Passerelle - Intégration et Développement Économique.
Anita Khanna, Coordinator, Ontario Campaign 2000
Sadia, Parent Activist.
Key Findings from the 2014 National Report Card, Child Poverty, 25 Years Later: We Can Fix This:
- Child poverty has increased since 1989: from 15.8% to 19.1% today and 40% of Indigenous children live in poverty.
- Public policies can reduce poverty. An enhanced child benefit of up to $5,600 would lift at least 174,000 children out of poverty.
- 40% of children in poverty reside in households with full time, full year employment.
- Canada needs a good jobs strategy and decent wages: growing trend towards part time, temporary work that is precarious will not reverse the child poverty crisis.
- Canada still needs that national childcare program. There are only enough regulated child care spaces to cover about 20.5% 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, leading to persistent social and economic inequality.
- One in seven of those in homelessness shelters are children. 37% of Canadian households have difficulty maintaining housing. Homelessness costs Canada $7 billion per year.
Key Findings from the 2014 Ontario Report Card, Child Poverty, 25 Years Later: We Can Fix This:
- Child poverty increased since 1989: from 12.4% to 19.9% today and over 551,130 children are in poverty.
- Public polices can reduce poverty. 2008's Poverty Reduction Strategy lifted 40,000 children out of poverty through investments in the Ontario Child Benefit and minimum wage increases. Ontario needs to get back on track with targets and timelines in order to further reduce child poverty through smart public policy measures.
- Work is not working for families: 40% of children living in poverty live in households will full time, full year work and there has been a 50% growth in involuntary part time employment since 2009. Women earn 68.5 cents for every dollar earned by men, while racialized women earn 19% less than non-racialized women.
- Income Inequality is widening: from 1989-2011, incomes of the richest 10% of families, rose by $43,000 while the income of the lowest income families rose by $596.
- Poverty affects people differently: Children in racialized, recent immigrant and indigenous families and children with disabilities are at greater risk of living in poverty, leading to persistent social and economic inequality.
- Youth labour market participation peaked in 1989, at 74.6% and is now at 60.1%, while the cost of university tuition has risen by 108% since 2003.
- Ontario has the most expensive childcare in Canada: at $12,516 the median annual fee for infant care, is nearly seven times Quebec's annual fee of $1824.
- The high cost of housing contributes to hunger - over 131,000 children use food banks every month. At least 165,069 households are waiting for rent-geared-to-income housing in Ontario.
SOURCE: Campaign 2000
For further information:
Media contacts: Laurel Rothman, 416-575-9230 or 416 595-9230 x228; Anita Khanna at 416-788-3439 or 416-595-9230 x241; Liyu Guo at 416-624-1885 or 416 595-9230 x244.