A broken promise to Canada's children?

November 24, 2009

Twenty years ago today, members of the House of Commons unanimously pledged to end child poverty in Canada. They set a deadline of the year 2000 to do it.

Today, as it does every year to mark the anniversary of the pledge, Campaign 2000 issued a report card on how we're doing. We got a grade of "incomplete".

The report says that Canada is not only very late to deliver on its commitment; it also hasn't made terribly impressive progress since 1989.

What does that mean, in real terms? According to the report, one in 10 children in this country is living in poverty. And the situation is even worse for First Nations kids. The report says one in four is growing up poor.

Former NDP leader Ed Broadbent made the motion in Parliament back in 1989. Read his op-ed in the Globe and Mail today.

As one might expect, some provinces are doing better than others. The report says the provinces with the highest child poverty rates are British Columbia and Manitoba, both at a whopping 18.8%. Prince Edward Island is apparently performing best at 8.3%.

The Victoria Times Colonist has a story today on British Columbia's results. It says a B.C. advocacy group called First Call has issued its own report, saying that B.C. is the worst performer. But the Times Colonist story also presents another view: the question of how reliable First Call's numbers are, as well as the very definition of child poverty.

The national report card isn't all bad news. Like any good teacher, Campaign 2000 says "...Canada has great potential and has demonstrated some knowledge and skills in poverty reduction."

Nicole Ireland, Producer, World Report

Nicole Ireland, Producer, World Report