New housing strategy could cut into child poverty rates, groups say
450,000 children are in families reliant on social assistance, says report
About 450,000 children are in families reliant on social assistance to pay the bills and the vast majority live below the poverty line, says a new report that hopes to prod more government action to alleviate child poverty.
The report from an anti-poverty coalition released today marks one of the first estimates of children living on government benefits.
The figure plays a key role in Campaign 2000's annual report on child and family poverty, which suggests that increased, targeted federal spending on child care and housing could help lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.
A new federal housing strategy is expected to meet most of what Campaign 2000 asks for in its annual report: a portable housing benefit paid directly to tenants to provide them with more housing options, an Indigenous housing strategy, a program to build new affordable housing and repair existing units and all of this aligned with an anti-poverty strategy to be released next year.
The Liberals are set to release their housing strategy on Wednesday and it will set what the government believes are deep targets to cut homelessness and help families living in homes, apartments and condos they can barely afford.
Meeting any of these goals will require the plan to focus on families most likely to be spending too much of their income on housing, including low-income families, single mothers, and Indigenous Peoples, said Anita Khanna, national co-ordinator of Campaign 2000.
The plight of children in the country is under a week-long focus on Parliament Hill, as groups look to pressure the Liberals to not rest on their efforts to date.
Help on the housing file is expected to be part of a road map laid out by the charity Children First Canada, said founder Sara Austen.
Newly released census data show 1.7 million households were in "core housing need" in 2016, meaning they spent more than one-third of their before-tax income on housing that may be substandard or doesn't meet their needs.
The government hopes to cut those numbers by 500,000 households through its strategy, with billions in new spending to help with affordable housing and with wider affordability in the housing market as well.
Austen said the Liberals have moved the dial on issues like child poverty through things like the Canada Child Benefit, but the pace of change is too slow.
"We need to create a greater sense of urgency that we need to make rapid, evidence-based investments into the lives of children," she said.