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1 in 10 Canadian children living in poverty

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Minsky, Amy
Publication Date: 
23 Nov 2010



One in 10 Canadian children is living in poverty, according to a report on the status of child and family poverty released Wednesday.

With Parliament's self-imposed deadline long past, it still has far to go on the promise it made 21 years ago to eradicate child poverty by 2000.

The most recent numbers show there is a 9.1 per cent rate of child poverty in Canada, down slightly from 11.9 per cent in 1989, the year Parliament unanimously resolved to end child poverty, it says in Campaign 2000's report card, which cites data from 2008.


Part of the plan includes ensuring continued access to equal health care for every Canadian, the report said.

And both provincial and federal governments will have to play a part, as health-care budgets now take up an increasingly large share of public sector spending, it said.

"The federal government, which will transfer $57.7 billion to the provinces and territories for health, education and social programs in 2010-11, needs to collaborate with the provinces and territories which oversee the delivery of health-care services to Canadians," the report says, noting that the agreements that guide the way in which health and social funds are transferred are set to expire in 2013-14. "It's important to plan now to ensure that sufficient and predictable funds are made available."

While the short-term benefits of ending poverty among the 610,000 children seem obvious - fewer children with problems affecting their physical, emotional and psychological health - government must also consider the long-term effects of childhood poverty, the report said.

"The impact of dire living conditions during childhood, such as inadequate nutrition and crowded or unsafe housing, carries far into adulthood," Monique Begin, a former minister of health under prime minister Pierre Trudeau, said in a statement. "Research has clearly demonstrated that there will be significant economic savings and better health outcomes for us all if we improve the incomes of people in poverty."

Aboriginal kids and children of recent immigrants and racial minorities are at an increased risk of living in poverty, the report said, noting those children also have a greater risk of living in persistent social and economic inequality.

All parties in the House of Commons last week supported a committee report recommending the government initiates and commits to a plan that will reduce poverty, an action Rothman said is encouraging.

"This reflects an emerging consensus among all the parties that poverty must be addressed as a national priority."

-reprinted from the Montreal Gazette