Child poverty in Canada: 1.3 million children affected in 2019

BARRIE — Nearly one in five children in Canada lived in poverty in 2019, a new report finds.

The report, published Wednesday by Campaign 200 — an impartial, pan-Canadian network of 120 national, provincial and civil society partner organizations working to end poverty among children and families — found that in 2019, 1.3 million children, or 17.7 percent, live under the Census Family Low Income Tax Measure After Tax (CFLIM-AT).

In addition, the study found that child poverty rates were even higher among children under the age of six across Canada, at 18.5%.

“The higher poverty rate for children at this important age of development is critical given the lifelong impact poverty has on educational and occupational levels,” reads the report, entitled “No One Left Behind: Strategies for an Inclusive Recovery.” sounds like this. .

According to the report, the child poverty rate dropped by just half a percentage point between 2018 and 2019.

“Our year-over-year analysis shows that only 24,000 children were lifted out of poverty in 2019,” Leila Sarangi, National Director of Campaign 2000, said in a press release. “At this rate, it would take another 54 years to end child poverty.”

Children now also live in greater poverty in Canada.

The report found that the average single-family with two low-income children in 2019 was $13,262 away from the CFLIM-AT. This is a significant increase from the $9,612 in 2015.

“This points to a worrying trend,” the report reads. “The families and children who remain in poverty are further from the poverty line than in previous years.”

The report suggests that a parent earning $15 an hour and living below the poverty line would have to work full-time for another 5.5 months, with no taxes or rebates, to achieve this.

While child poverty remains a problem across Canada, the rate was highest in Nunavut at 34.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Manitoba recorded the highest child poverty rate of any of the country’s provinces, at 28.4 percent.

According to the report, only Quebec, Alberta, Ontario and Yukon recorded child poverty rates that were below the national average.

SYSTEMIC INEQUALITY

Shalini Konanur is an attorney and executive director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario and a member of the Steering Committee of the Color of Poverty – Color of Change.

Konanur said the report “critically highlights the conditions of low-income immigrants, refugees and people without status, the majority of whom are racialized.”

“These communities have been hit hard by the impact of COVID-19 with higher unemployment rates, poverty, gender-based violence and poor health outcomes,” Konanur said in the press release.

The report said the 2016 census data suggests child poverty rates were much higher than the national average among racialized and immigrant communities.

According to the report, 25.5 percent of racialized children and 35 percent of immigrant children lived in poverty.

Konanur said priority should be given to “reducing the barriers created by racism and discrimination to universalize access to income support for all people in Canada, addressing barriers to better labor market outcomes for racialized people and concretely addressing the increasing racialization of poverty in Canada.”

Rabia Khedr, national director of Disability Without Poverty, said more than 41 percent of people living in poverty are disabled.

“People with disabilities had financial difficulties prior to the pandemic and are now facing even more disadvantages,” Khedr, who is also the founder of DEEN Support Services and Race and Disability Canada, said in the press release.

“They wonder if they will be included in recovery plans at all. Some people with disabilities consider the end of their lives because they cannot afford to live,” Khedr continued.

WHAT ABOUT CANADA’S CHILDREN?

Canadian Child Support is a tax-free monthly payment sent to families to help cover some of the costs associated with raising children.

However, the report said that the poverty reduction benefit “will continue to stagnate” because it cannot help lift families living in “deep poverty”.

The report said the maximum CCB allocation is $6,639 for each child under the age of six. That number drops to $5,602 for children ages six to 17.

The authors call on the federal government to increase CCB allocations in the 2022 budget so that “all low-income families under the CFLIM-AT have access to CCB pandemic supplementary funds, regardless of the age of their children.”

They also say that “substantial investment” in the CCB’s base amount is needed to “ensure it supports an interim target of a 50 percent reduction in child poverty by 2025 according to the CFLIM-AT calculated using tax data. ”

Speaking to the throne on Tuesday, Canadian Governor General Mary Simon touted Canada’s child support benefits, saying it has “already lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty”, adding that it will “continue to rise to keep pace with the cost of living.”

REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS

The report includes a host of recommendations that the authors say will help fight poverty across the country.

The 60 recommendations cover a variety of topics, such as housing, income security, childcare, health care and workers’ wages, and include strategies to address systemic inequalities.

The report recommends developing plans to prevent, reduce and eradicate poverty in collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments and organizations, including women’s and 2SLGBQQIA+ organizations.

The authors also urge “immediate action” on the government’s commitment to end homelessness in accordance with Canada’s international human rights obligations. They also called for the definition of “chronic homelessness” to be reassessed.

Workers’ wages must be adequate, and at least up to CFLIM-AT, the report notes, with the authors calling for legislation for equal pay and benefits for all workers.

Furthermore, the report suggests working with counties and territories to implement “operational funding” of childcare programs on a sliding scale of $0 to $10 per day.

In the press release, Sarangi said there are “many opportunities at the moment with the start of a new minority government mandate”.

“We’ve been thinking about what we’ve learned from the pandemic, and we need to apply those lessons and start closing the inequality gaps for good,” Sarangi said.

“The potential for a resilient, connected future where the norm is for everyone to thrive is within our grasp,” she continued. “We need the political will and action now.”

The report’s authors say they are urging the government to “take immediate and bold action to eradicate child poverty.”

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