Canada — a wealthy nation with an abundance of natural resources — can’t seem to put a stop to child poverty, according to an annual report examining children’s welfare in the country.
Almost one out of every five Canadian children lived in poverty in 2013. To put that into perspective, that’s 1,334,930 Canadian children in need.
The poverty “report card” paints a bleak picture:
- The rate of child poverty in Canada has increased from 15.8 per cent in 1989 to 19 per cent in 2013,
- Child poverty rates are nearly double for Indigenous children, at 40 per cent,
- More than one third of children living in poverty are in a household with a family member who has full time, year-round employment,
- One in seven Canadians using homeless shelters are children, an environment that can lead to higher rates of mental and physical health issues.
The report, titled Let’s End Child Poverty for Good, says a federal plan to turn these numbers around is urgently needed.
“Canada must craft a strong plan that meets the needs of its most vulnerable citizens. Therefore Campaign 2000 calls on the federal government to ensure the design of the new Canada Child Benefit reduces child poverty by 50 per cent in five years,” Anita Khanna, national coordinator for Campaign 2000, states in the report.
Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan network of 120 organizations from coast-to-coast working to end child and family poverty.
Among the group’s recommendations for eradicating poverty in Canada:
- An increase in funding for Canada Social Transfer,
- Enhanced Employment Insurance benefits,
- Enhanced and extended maternity and parental leave benefits,
- A national housing strategy,
- Addressing income inequality.
A national childcare program is also key to improving child and family welfare, and “long overdue”, the report states.
It was reported last week that food bank use is on the rise across Canada, most notably in Alberta where an oilpatch slump has hurt the local economy. Food Banks Canada called for government action on affordable housing, investments in job training and a minimum income program to curb the need.