Canada may be falling behind in addressing child poverty, but this area is significantly better off than the national average, according to a new study.
Using federal ridings as a comparator, the Campaign 2000 report finds Kitchener-Conestoga’s 8.5 per cent is less than have the national rate of 17.5 per cent.
Campaign 2000 is an educational movement organized in the late eighties that aims to increase Canadian awareness and support to reduce the childhood poverty rate. It publishes data listing the childhood poverty rate in each riding that comes from the tax filings of Canadians, notes Anita Khanna, the group’s national coordinator.
“Canada is actually falling behind other countries in terms of addressing poverty,” explained Khanna. “Canada has the 12th highest poverty rate among 26 countries. These are wealthy countries, so we’re not talking about developing ones. So if you compare to peers, we’re falling behind, so there certainly needs to be more invested. Canada has quite a way to go.”
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Advancements in family policies include parental leave, child benefits, and other supports, have remained unchanged for many years. Canada’s social spending is below the OECD average, and that number has remained unchanged since 1990, according to Khanna.
“Child poverty actually has a higher rate today than it did in 2000,” added Sid Frankel, a professor at the University of Manitoba and steering committee member at Campaign 2000. “Our new goal is what we think the government should put into place as a target in its poverty reduction strategy.”
Campaign 2000 has outlined its recommendations for the government in reducing child poverty, including a crystal clear strategy and firm goals such as reducing the child poverty rate by 50 per cent by 2020, according to Frankel.
“The Trudeau government promised during the last federal election a child poverty strategy,” he said. “They’ve made various promises about when it would be released; we’re a bit concerned that it’s so late in their mandate. The latest indication is that it will be released either in this month or in very early July.”
This release of a poverty reduction strategy will be the first in Canada’s history.
“This is a huge step, and it’s something that we and other groups have advocated for decades,” said Khanna. “So, obviously, we want to welcome the strategy; we want to see strong support for families with children and strong anti-poverty measures. The data here is used to build support, also awareness among all MPs because clearly child poverty is an issue for all of them and for all Canadians. It is so widespread, and there are alarming numbers of children with poverty.”
Childhood poverty reduction strategies include several specific methods.
“A way they can meet that goal is to improve child benefits but also to invest in child care services,” said Khanna. “So to create a universal childcare program. So people can use it if they need it. And support services of childcare as well as invest in affordable housing, universal Pharmacare and, of course, helping the creation of good jobs … so people don’t have to work two or three jobs at a time. Also that there are decent wages, and benefits or support for workers as well.”
Any time spent living in poverty, even a short time, will affect a child’s achievement in school, lead to stress and anxiety, and potentially develop lifelong conditions such as asthma or diabetes, the group suggests.
More information about the group’s report can be found online at