Little progress on child poverty, threat increasing: Campaign 2000 report
760,000 children live in poverty in Canada
One in nine children in Canada are growing up in poverty, a figure expected to increase with the economic downturn, says Campaign 2000's annual Report Card on Child and Family Poverty released in Ottawa on Friday.
The report is being released on the 19th anniversary of the unanimous House of Commons resolution to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000.
According to the report, the nation's child poverty rate remains unchanged from 1989, even after a decade of strong economic growth:
- Canada's after-tax child poverty rate appears stalled at 11.3 per cent.
- Nearly one out every nine Canadian children lives in poverty.
- Forty per cent of low-income children live in families where at least one of their parents work full-time year round.
- Children among visible minorities, and new Canadian and aboriginal families as well as children with disabilities are at greater risk of living in poverty.
- Nearly one in four First Nations children continue to live in poverty.
The group called on the federal government to raise the Canada Child Tax Benefit and send more child-care funding to the provinces.
According to member of Parliament Justin Trudeau, critic for the Liberals on social issues, the economy is best served when individual Canadians are able to contribute their full potential.
"That means making sure that kids are able to concentrate in schools because they are hungry from not having had breakfast or a minimal lunch," Trudeau said.
"That means parents are able to work hard and not worry that their kids are being baby-sat by the TV. That means people are able to focus on contributing instead of just getting by and just surviving."
Later in the House of Commons, Human Resources Minister Diane Finlay said the Conservatives want to work with all members of the House to eliminate poverty.
She said her party has contributed to that by lowering the GST.
A provincial report released by Ontario Campaign 2000 says the province's child poverty level is stubbornly high at 11.8 per cent and will get far worse if the province plunges into a recession.
According to Jacquie Maund, co-ordinator of Ontario Campaign 2000, "Now, more than ever, we need the Ontario government to make a solid financial down payment on a comprehensive poverty reduction plan."
The report shows 324,000 Ontario children are living in poverty, with the average low-income family living $7,100 below the poverty line.