Ottawa lacks plan to fight child poverty, coalition says

When it comes to helping Canada’s 639,000 children living in poverty, the more things change, the more they stay the same. That is the sobering message from Campaign 2000, a national coalition of more than 120 groups and individuals that has been lobbying for federal action on the issue for two decades. “Neither the promised poverty elimination or plans have materialized,” the group says in its 20th anniversary progress report on Ottawa’s 1989 pledge to tackle the issue. The report, obtained by the Star, is being released Wednesday and calls on the government to cut poverty by at least 50 per cent by 2020. Canada’s poverty rate in 2009 was 9.5 per cent. And although the rate has inched up and down with the business cycle over the past 20 years, the report notes that the problem remains largely unchanged from 1989, when 11.9 per cent of the nation’s children were living in poverty. “This change of 20 per cent over 20 years is strikingly small when compared to the unprecedented period of growth since 1998 . . . and should not be mistaken for long-term improvement,” the report says. Since Campaign 2000’s first report in 2001, the Canadian economy has more than doubled. But the incomes of the country’s poorest 20 per cent of families have remained stagnant, the report notes. Meantime, the gap between rich and poor families has widened leaving middle income families working longer hours just to keep up.

Publication Date: 
November 23, 2011
Journal Name: 
The Toronto Star