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Despite five years of unprecedented economic growth child poverty rates in Canada barely moved, a new report on child poverty has found. As the economy enters another recession, experts predict that a badly compromised social security network will be unable to respond.
"Hand in hand with the economic boom went growing disparity between the richest and poorest in Canada. At a time when governments could have invested in a long-term vision for children, they chose to cut taxes and supports for families," said Laurel Rothman, national co-ordinator of Campaign 2000, an umbrella group of organizations dedicated to the elimination of child poverty in Canada.
Hardest hit during the last half of the 1990s were social assistance rates that fell across Canada and Employment Insurance eligibility that now leaves two out of three unemployed workers without coverage.
"Families who are now vulnerable to poverty will be fall onto hard times without a cushion. Without an adequate support system, they are less able to recover and pull themselves out." Rothman said.
The organization has tracked child poverty rates since, 1992. It notes a new trend over the past two decades: where previously poverty rates tended to follow economic cycles, recently the numbers of poor jumped during each recession but failed to recede during times of prosperity.
Campaign 2000 released its full report at a media conference at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa against the backdrop of a photo essay on child poverty launched by PhotoSensitive, 24 photographers who have put faces to some of the 1.3-million children living in poverty. Kodak Canada will post the entire collection along with interviews on its website.