I wonder what happened to the pledge to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000? While the goal of eliminating child poverty was likely never achievable, it isn't unfair to expect that at least we could have made some significant gains to that end. Instead while the percentage of children living in poverty has decreased from 11.9 % in 1989 when Parliament passed the resolution pledging to eliminate child poverty by 2000, to 9.5 in 2009, the number of kids affected has risen and likely has even worsened since 2009 given the persistence of unemployment and the move to insecure low paying jobs.
Campaign 2000 in it's 20th annual Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada paints a bleak picture of the state of child poverty in Canada. Some of it's key findings include:
One in 10 children still lives in poverty in Canada. It’s worse for children living in First Nations communities: 1 in 4 grow up in poverty.
Employment is not always an assured pathway out of poverty: 1 in 3 low-income children lives in families where at least one parent works full-time year round and 1 in 4 workers is in a low-wage job earning less than $13.32 per hour.
Public investments make a difference: without the income transfers in 2009, 1 in 4 children would have lived in poverty. Canada’s public programs brought the child poverty rate down to 14% (LICO Before-Tax).
Although the rapid rise in the number of working mothers is one of the key social changes of the last century, Canada still has no societal response to the need for child care. Less than 1 in 5 children (0 -12 years) has access to a regulated child care space.
Housing is the single largest expense for low- and modest-income families. One in 4 households pays more than 30% of their income on housing. And 750,000 children (under 15 years) live in housing that is either unaffordable, substandard, overcrowded or all three.
Clearly we can and must do better, unfortunately with governments at all levels hellbent on instituting ruinous austerity measures and the continuance of corporate tax cuts the situation will only worsen and significantly so. All the more reason for us as citizens and caring human beings to rise up in opposition to this corporately driven agenda.