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One million too many: Implementing solutions to child poverty in Canada

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2004 Report Card on Child Poverty in Canada
Campaign 2000
Publication Date: 
24 Nov 2004

Excerpts from the press release:

The child poverty rate in Canada is up for the first time since 1996. After five consecutive years of decline, the child poverty rate increased to 15.6 per cent in 2002, which means 1,065,000 children, or nearly 1 in 6 children in Canada, live in low income families. Fifteen years after Parliament's unanimous all-party declaration to end child poverty, Campaign 2000's 2004 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada reveals that governments are failing to take sufficient action to reduce child poverty and low-wage labour markets are letting parents down.

"Despite continued economic growth and rising employment, the high rate of child and family poverty remains Canada's social deficit." said Laurel Rothman, National Coordinator of Campaign 2000. "This country needs a comprehensive, multi-year social investment strategy to break the back of child poverty. With consecutive multi-billion dollar budget surpluses, Canada has the resources to make substantial progress and become a world leader on this front. We need the same determination to invest in early learning and child care services, affordable housing and an enhanced child benefit as was demonstrated in commitments to health care and equalization payments."

"Canada is faced with a huge opportunity to move from a patchwork of early learning and child care services to a framework of publicly-funded programs that are affordable and widely available for all children. This will be the most important social policy advance of the decade; to get it right, we need leadership from federal, provincial and territorial governments to ensure strong principles and sustained funding," said Marcel Lauzière, Canadian Council on Social Development.

"Poor jobs are a main source of child poverty in Canada. More than one out of four of Canada's low income children had at least one parent working full-time throughout 2002. Federal and provincial/territorial action is needed to ensure that jobs with living wages and enhanced child benefits together are a pathway out of poverty," added Andrew Jackson, Canadian Labour Congress.

"The federal government can no longer use the excuse that it lacks the funds to help low income children. Canada's Fiscal Outlook projects surpluses of almost $30 billion over the next five years. The solutions are well known. Let's put the surpluses to work for Canada's children, " added Rothman.

Campaign 2000 is calling for a multi-year social investment plan including a maximum child benefit of $4,900; a universally accessible system of high quality, publicly-funded early learning and child care; significant expansion of affordable housing; a renewed social safety net through the Canada Social Transfer; and more good jobs at living wages.