One in 10 Canadian children live in poverty: report
Twenty years after the House of Commons resolved to eliminate child poverty in Canada, almost one in 10 Canadian children still live in low-income families, according to a new report.
The 2009 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty says approximately 9.5 per cent of Canadian children live in poverty, down from 11.9 per cent in 1989.
The report was released Tuesday, on the 20th anniversary of a House of Commons all-party resolution to eliminate poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000.
The report calls on Ottawa to provide a per-child tax benefit of up to $5,400, to enact a federal hourly minimum wage of $11 and to set targets for reducing poverty in aboriginal communities, among other suggested measures.
Campaign 2000, the organization that authored the report card, used after-tax, final statistics from two years ago to come to their conclusions -- meaning that the impact of the current recession is not accounted for in the report.
Laurel Rothman, one of the authors of this year's report card and the national co-ordinator for Campaign 2000, said Canada's progress on the poverty file has been minimal since the 1989 promise was made.
"After a period of about 12 to 15 years of economic growth and prosperity, the poverty rate only came down a very small amount," Rothman told CTV's Canada AM during a Tuesday morning telephone interview from Ottawa.
"We still have more than 634,000 children living in low-income families," Rothman said.
"Many of them often have to resort to food banks, they may not have secure housing and have to move frequently and change schools."
These same families are often unable to find affordable childcare, which also puts them at a disadvantage.
"We're really quite stuck in this country and we need to move forward," Rothman said.
In order for that to happen, Rothman said Canadian leaders need to make child poverty a priority issue.
"I think the biggest hurdle is lack of leadership and determination," Rothman said.
She said other countries have managed to make headway on the same issue by mobilizing their elected leaders, non-governmental organizations and other resources to set goals and meet them.
"We're looking to our leaders to put their heads together to work together on this and set a target and dedicate resources to ending child and family poverty in Canada," Rothman said.