Campaign 2000 is an organization committed to ending child and family poverty in Canada. The name refers to a resolution made by all parties in the Canadian House of Commons in 1989 to end child and family poverty by the year 2000. As this infographic illustrates, there are more families living in poverty in 2013 (967,000) than there were in 1989 (912,000).

As the infographic shows, there are two choices facing the federal government at the moment. One direction leads to greater poverty (including food insecurity and homelessness) while the other leads to a vision to better the lives of Canadian children.

If the road to poverty reduction is not chosen then more children and their families will become homeless and Canada’s reputation as a caring nation will suffer. And remember – reducing child poverty is about reducing poverty for their adult caretakers. Children – with the exception of homeless youth (see below) - aren’t poor on their own!

As the infographic tells us, by next year even getting a job unfortunately doesn’t even necessarily guarantee you will be earning a wage high enough to support living expenses. Campaign 2000 predicts that 1 in 3 children living in poverty will have a full-time working parent. This is one example of a structural problem that has to be addressed by all levels of government. Reducing child poverty is about improving wages, more full-time jobs, increased benefits, childcare and rent supplements.

As a nation, Canada is becoming increasingly unequal. Part of my interest in youth homelessness has to do with addressing this inequality. Youth homelessness can lead to adult homelessness which can perpetuate the cycle of child poverty.

There have been several organizations and programs that have created successful interventions for youth experiencing homelessness. Raising the Roof released a report called ‘It’s Everybody’s Business’ that looks at organizations that have successfully partnered with the private sector. After addressing youth’s basic needs and providing some training and skills development as necessary, organizations partnered with the private sector for job placements. After completing the programs, 19% of youth had plans to complete a form of education and another 19% planned to complete a form of education while working. Other youth expressed interests in finding other employment and opening their own businesses.

Despite all of the difficulties that are faced by youth experiencing homelessness, and poverty, there is a huge amount of resilience. Despite someone’s current position, there is always opportunity to build on the many positive attributes, skills and interests that people have. The problem is that people aren’t given enough opportunity to overcome situations that they have been placed in.