children playing

Reduced poverty = Better health for all

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
2010 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada
Campaign 2000
Publication Date: 
24 Nov 2010

Excerpts from the press release:

Canada’s economic recovery hinges on federal leadership to pull recession victims out of the poor house and prevent Canadians from plunging into deeper poverty, says Campaign 2000’s new report card on child and family poverty.

Reduced Poverty = Better Health for All looks at the nation’s most recent child and family poverty rate compared to 21 years ago, when Parliament unanimously resolved to end child poverty by 2000, and finds that 610,000 children (2008 LICO after-tax) and their families lived in poverty even before the recession hit. The child poverty rate of 9.1 per cent is slightly less than when it was 11.9 per cent in 1989. Lessons from past recessions tell us that poverty will rise before the recovery is complete.

Excerpts from the ECEC section of the Report Card:

The absence of a systematic approach to ECEC is directly linked to poor accessibility and inadequate quality. Canadian families and children must fit into narrow eligibility categories, segregated into class, income, and lifestyle “silos” to gain access to different ECEC programs. This not only means that ECEC is insufficiently accessible but that the potential of ECEC as a broadly-based social determinant of health is severely undermined for most categories of families.

In 2010, Canada still lacks a national approach to ECEC and regularly fails to meet international benchmarks for best policy practice. There are still only enough regulated child care spaces to cover about 20% of children aged 0-5 years and -- based on the available research -- the quality is too often less than optimal. While just about all five year olds have access to publicly-funded kindergarten, these programs don’t meet working/studying parents’ schedules and only one province -- Ontario -- offers kindergarten to most four year olds.

There are, however, some encouraging developments in this gloomy ECEC picture as some provinces have begun to examine, reform or even transform their ECEC situations. Generally, these efforts are moving toward a more systematic approach, blending early childhood education and child care (or at least moving them into the same ministry) as the OECDhas recommended 51 and improving accessibility. A recent study found clear agreement from the ECEC field across Canada that growing involvement of the education sector in ECEC is Canada’s most important current trend, although developments are far from complete or perfect and many key issues remain. At the same time, the absence of the federal government from the ECEC policy and financing table significantly hinders even the most forward-looking efforts on the part of individual provinces and territories, while services for Aboriginal families and children remain fragmented and significantly underdeveloped.