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How Canada can meet its commitment to end child poverty in Canada

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Campaign 2000's Pre-Budget Submission to the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Finance
Rothman, Laurel
Publication Date: 
6 Aug 2014


Executive summary:

Nearly 25 years after the unanimous 1989 House of Commons resolution to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000 and five years after the 2009 unanimous November 24th resolution of the House". . . be it resolved that the Government of Canada, taking into consideration the Committee's work in this regard, and respecting provincial and territorial jurisdiction, develop an immediate plan to eliminate poverty in Canada for all", neither the promised poverty elimination nor plans have materialized.

Most recent data show that 967,000 children and their families - almost 1 child in 7 - still live in poverty. It is most disturbing that 4 in 10 of Canada's indigenous children live in poverty.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of updated statistics from 2012, it is hard to know if Canada has made progress in reducing the child poverty rate in the past year.

More children and their families lived in poverty as of 2011 than they did in 1989 when the House of  Commons unanimously resolved to end child poverty in Canada. This situation is not inevitable, but rather is the result of policy decisions that have been made over time.

This brief responds to the themes of a) supporting families and helping vulnerable Canadians by focusing on health, education and training; and b) ensuring prosperous and secure communities, including through support for infrastructure.

While there are additional public investments that are needed to end child poverty in Canada, the following are Campaign 2000's priority recommendations for the 2015 Federal Budget. We recommend:

- The Government of Canada take leadership and introduce a federal action plan to reduce and eradicate poverty in consultation with provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal governments and organizations, non-governmental organizations and people living in poverty. Secured in legislation, this plan will identify key roles for all levels of governments and recognize the particularities of how Québec pursues social policy in the Canadian context.

- An enhanced child benefit for low-income families to a maximum of $5,400 per child (in 2014 dollars and indexed to inflation).

- An emergency infusion of $500 million in 2015 to provinces/territories/and Indigenous communities earmarked for regulated child care as the foundation upon which to build a comprehensive early childhood education and care (ECEC) policy framework and system. 

- Address the critical need for affordable housing by:

  • Enhancing the federal homelessness strategy by 10% ($12 billion) to address persistent homelessness and inflation, and to adopt methods in addition to "Homes First" which is a laudable program but often does not effectively assist families.
  • Doubling the federal Investment in Affordable Housing program to $500 million annually and completing agreements with the seven provinces and territories that currently do not have an agreement
  • Reversing the decline in overall federal housing investments that lead to fewer federally subsidized homes.