Bill M212: Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act

2014 Legislative Session: 2nd Session, 40th Parliament

Related article:
Time for bipartisan action to address root causes of poverty in B.C.
By Ted Bruce and Seth Klein are co-chairs of the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC), and Trish Garner is the community organizer. Ted Bruce is also the past president of the Public Health Association of B.C. and Seth Klein is the B.C. director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

May 8, 2014
Georgia Straight
Stephen Hui

This week, in the B.C. legislature, the official Opposition (MLA Michelle Mungall) introduced a private member’s bill proposing a B.C. Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act. The Act, were it to be enacted, would see the government develop a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy within one year, and legislate specific targets and timelines to reduce the breadth and depth of poverty.

British Columbia has had the highest poverty rate in Canada for the last 13 years, yet is now one of only two provinces left without a poverty reduction plan. It is about time B.C. caught up with the rest of Canada in tackling poverty upfront and saving lives and money through this approach.

According to a poll released last year by the B.C. Healthy Living Alliance, 78 percent of British Columbians think it is important for political leaders in B.C. to address poverty with a provincial poverty reduction plan with clear targets and timelines. Clearly, the public is ready for political leadership on this issue, so it is gratifying to see a proposed Act such as this.

Importantly, the proposed Act includes extensive community consultation, including with those living in poverty, and also outlines how a government should be held accountable for progress. It commits to embed targets in legislation, to appoint a lead minister, to have a cabinet committee to oversee the strategy co-chaired by the premier, to have an outside advisory committee to hold the government to account, and to annual reporting to monitor progress.

However, the process of implementing a comprehensive strategy should not serve to delay urgent first steps, as there are immediate actions needed, such as raising inadequate welfare rates that have been frozen since 2007 and continuing to raise the minimum wage.

It is significant that the guiding principles of the Act include protecting human rights, addressing the social and economic costs of poverty, and addressing the social determinants of health.

First, at the international level, Canada, in consultation with the B.C. government, has committed to several human rights obligations that guarantee social and economic rights to all citizens. In the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR, 1966), which Canada ratified in 1976, Article 11(1) recognizes “the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.” A comprehensive poverty reduction strategy would be a critical step in honouring this commitment.

Second, in relation to the costs of poverty, the costs of health care alone in relation to poverty are $1.2 billion per year. Adding criminal justice costs and lost productivity gives a grand total of $8-9 billion per year. A comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, including building affordable housing and providing universal childcare, would cost approximately half that at $3-4 billion per year. The question is not can we afford to do it but can we afford not to.

Finally, the growing literature on the social determinants of health reveals that tackling poverty upfront is the single biggest factor in improving health outcomes for everyone, not just those living in poverty.

The Act was previously introduced by the Opposition in June 2011 but did not receive a second reading in the legislature. There have been no significant changes in public policy to address poverty since that time. Rejecting this call on the grounds that the B.C. Jobs Plan will suffice, as the government has done, is clearly not working.

Despite a strong recommendation from the Budget Consultations report to “introduce a comprehensive poverty reduction plan,” the government failed to include any substantial measures to address poverty in this year’s recent budget.

This recommendation received the unanimous support from the members of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, which listen to voices from communities around B.C. before making their decisions. Perhaps the government needs to reconsider their position on this recommendation?

All parties need to support the Act, as has happened in other provinces across Canada. Now is the time for bipartisan collaboration and action in addressing the root causes of poverty.

Living Wages in BC

Working for a Living Wage 2014
By Iglika Ivanova and Seth Klein, CCPA BC
Reports and docs

Living Wage rates in BC
Living Wages in BC – Map

Related news items:

2014 living wage calculation: Parents need two minimum wage jobs each to support a family in Metro Vancouver
April 29, 2014

A report released today finds that the wage needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Metro Vancouver is $20.10 per hour. This is the 2014 Metro Vancouver living wage rate, the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children must earn to meet their basic expenses (including rent, child care, food and transportation), once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies have been taken into account.

The 2014 Metro Vancouver living wage rose by 48 cents from the 2013 figure of $19.62/hour, according to Working for a Living Wage 2014: Making Paid Work Meet Basic Family Needs in Metro Vancouver, a report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-BC office, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, and the Metro Vancouver Living Wage for Families Campaign. This represents an increase of 2.4%, much higher than the general inflation rate of 0.2% for Vancouver.

Living wage rates have also risen faster than inflation for the Fraser Valley and the Capital Regional District, to $17.02 and $18.93 respectively, where reports were also released today.

“The Metro Vancouver living wage rate has crossed an important threshold – it is now over twenty dollars – almost double the current minimum wage,” says Michael McCarthy Flynn, Campaign Organizer with the Living Wage for Families Campaign. “The stark reality of this is that workers in minimum wage jobs in Metro Vancouver have to work two jobs just to make ends meet.”

Child care and shelter costs are the two big drivers of the living wage increase. Child care costs rose by $48 per month, while rent costs were up by $50 per month. Other items in the family budget that saw increases higher than inflation were clothing and footwear (2%), MSP premiums (4%) and non-MSP healthcare expenditures (2%). MSP premiums rose in 2014 for the fifth consecutive year, and have added $30.50 to the family’s monthly expenses since the Metro Vancouver living wage was first calculated in 2008.

“Though a $20.10 hourly living wage rate may be a surprise to some, it is important to remember that this high wage rate reflects, in part, a failure of public policy to ensure affordability and a decent quality of life for all families,” says Iglika Ivanova, CCPA economist and co-author of the report. “Investing in universal affordable childcare, more affordable rental and social housing, or better public transportation would significantly reduce the costs of raising a family and lower the living wage. For example, the $10/Day Child Care Plan proposed by the Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC, would reduce the Metro Vancouver living wage by $3.57 per hour, bringing it to $16.53.”

BC now has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, and has ranked worst in Canada for nine out of the last ten years (we were second-worst in 2010). The story of child poverty is very much a story of low wages. In 2011 (the last year for which we have data), one out of every three poor children (32%) lived in families where at least one adult had a full-time, full-year job and a majority lived in families with some paid work (part-year or part-time).

“The living wage is one of the most powerful tools available to address BC’s troubling state of child poverty and working poverty more broadly,” says McCarthy Flynn. “It calls on employers to pay wages that reflect the actual costs of living in their communities.”

Thirty-six organizations in Metro Vancouver, employing over 6,000 workers and covering many thousand more contracted service workers, have been certified as Living Wage Employers. These include SAP-Vancouver, Vancity, The Canadian Cancer Society – BC and Yukon Division, the City of New Westminster and Eclipse Awards, winner of Small Business BC’s “Best Employer” in 2012 and “Best Green Business” in 2014.

Working poverty is a Canada-wide issue. 25 communities across the country, including 11 in BC, have calculated their local living wages and are campaigning to improve quality of life for low-wage workers. Metro Vancouver’s is in the unenviable position of being the first community where the Living Wage rate has broken the $20 per hour mark.

International Family Policy Comparisons: Why Canada lags behind

The Keeping in Touch enewsletter, a summary of Lynell Anderson’s keynote address at the UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) Fall 2013 Research Exposition.
Posted on 27 March 2014.

Canada lags behind most other industrial countries on many of the international family policy rankings, including public investments. In most provinces, this reflects the on-going fragmentation of both our systems for and our thinking about families with young children.

In her keynote address (which can be viewed here) to the UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) Fall 2013 Research Exposition, Lynell Anderson, Senior Researcher for the Generation Squeeze campaign at HELP, and a Certified General Accountant, explored what we can learn from international policy comparisons (with a focus on OECD countries including Norway, France, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Australia), and highlights policy changes required to help children and families thrive in Canada. Her research focuses on the financing of family policy in Canada, especially with respect to child care services.

Why investing in childcare makes good budget sense

News Corp Australia/The Daily Telegraph
Jessica Irvine, National Economics Editor

IT was a shining moment of clarity amid an otherwise grey and trouser-dominated weekend of meetings between G20 finance ministers and central bankers.

“Women are the most under-utilised asset in most of … the economies in the world,” declared Angel Gurria, the Secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Of the 52 finance ministers and central bankers who assembled in Sydney last weekend, just six were women — albeit among them Janet Yellen, the chair of the US Federal Reserve and arguably the world’s most powerful woman.

But while small in number, women were not entirely absent from the agenda of the G20. You see, women’s liberation has long since ceased being a radical feminist idea.

And you don’t need to be a woman to be a feminist. Some of the most staunch feminists these days are economists, who regard equal rights for women as a central pillar of economic policy.

Gurria is one of them. And Hockey too, if frequency of nodding and “mmm”ing are any indication.

The two men held a press conference on the sidelines of the G20 meetings last weekend in which Gurria implored countries to find ways to unshackle women to join in the pursuit of wealth creation and to boost economic growth.

“You need, like they say in the marines, ‘all hands on deck’ and ‘every able body’ and certainly you need all the women you can get. They are just as educated, they are just as confident, they are just as smart — or more,” Gurria declared (with Hockey interjecting “more”).

All women need, according to Gurria, is the chance to participate: “How do you do that? You free them up from the need to be taking care of children.”

And get this, all you guilt-ridden mothers: you can leave your mother guilt at the door of the childcare centre.

According to Gurria, children who live in countries with above average attendance at early childhood care centres go on to score higher in educational tests.

“Early child hood care and education has very good results on the children themselves,” he said. “But the most important thing is it frees up the women to go into the labour force.”

Australia’s female workforce participation rate ranks above average for OECD countries, but it is hardly best practice. Australia’s economy could be $25 billion bigger if women here participated in the workforce as much as Canadian women, according to the Grattan Institute.

With Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme in the cross hairs of his Audit Commission, which reportedly has concluded it is too expensive, the government is being urged to ditch the scheme and spend the money on childcare instead.

The reality is we need to do both. Paid parental leave is an election mandate for Abbott and will likely pass in some form.

But urgent action is also needed on childcare.

Australians are already accessing more formal childcare than ever before. Over half of 2 to 4 year olds today attend some form of childcare. In 1991, just 250,000 children were in approved childcare. Today the figure is more than a million.

Abbott’s Productivity Commission inquiry in childcare and early childhood learning is underway, but not due to report to government until October 2014.

Already it has received 426 submissions, indicating the demand in the community for strong recommendations on better and more affordable care.

Indeed, of all the OECD’s economic policy prescriptions for Australia, reforms to alleviate the high cost of pre-primary education were emphasised in a recent report “Going for Growth”.

“In the case of Australia, expanding early childhood education service may put pressure on the fiscal balance, at least in the short run. However, it contributes to a narrowing income inequality by enabling a more equal formation of human capital at early age and by facilitating full-time labour participation by women.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that better formal early childhood care not only helps kids get a head start at school but also helps women to achieve their goals in the workforce.

It’s time we too changed the way we think about childcare, not as a subsidy or welfare check, but as an investment.

And some investments are so good, they are worth making regardless of the budget balance — because they earn a return greater than their cost.

Childcare is one of them.

Money spent on childcare has a boomerang effect on the budget: it comes back in greater tax revenue from the incomes of working women.

And that just makes good business and budget sense.

Read online

Income Splitting: So Divisive It’s Splitting the Tories

Why Harper’s going ‘Mad Men’ retro with his $3-billion tax gift to social conservatives.
Andrew Jackson, Tyee


Discouraging women from working outside the home is surely not an appropriate goal for tax policy. But that may just be the motivation behind the Harper government’s plan to introduce “income splitting” for families — an expensive tax gift to traditional families with one breadwinner and a stay at home spouse.

The gift is already proving costly to Conservative party unity. The Harper government’s own finance minister is speaking out against the policy that would deprive the treasury of tax revenues while benefitting mainly big earners.

But Minister Jim Flaherty is up against social conservatives in Tory ranks who built income splitting into the party’s platform….

Pushed from far-right fringe

REAL Women of Canada is an avowedly conservative women’s movement that has led the charge for family income splitting since at least the mid 1990s. They are a profoundly anti-feminist organization that also supports anti-union laws, and oppose public child care, abortion and same-sex marriage.

In a 2012 pamphlet titled “The Importance of the Family,” REAL women argue the case for tax changes to support the traditional family with a stay at home spouse, usually a woman.

“Although there are serious financial disadvantages to single-income families, ie. decreased disposable income, there are, nonetheless, some important emotional and sociological advantages for such families, and, in the long-run, for society. That is, when one partner (either the mother or father) is the sole provider, energy can be directed by the other partner to full-time parenthood. This allows for complete attention towards the nurturing of the children and assists the family by creating values, faith and traditions, which are more readily achieved by this close family arrangement. Healthy families ensure the future of mankind.”

British Columbia-based Focus on the Family Canada has also taken the lead in advocacy of tax measures to support the traditional family. They have links to the major American evangelical Christian organization of the same name and, according to journalist Marci Macdonald, received $1.6 million in services from the larger American organization between 2003 and 2006.

Focus on the Family Canada’s mission is to “encourage and strengthen the Canadian family through education and resources based on Christian principles”; and its guiding principles include the preeminence of evangelism, the permanence of marriage, and the sanctity of human life. Like REAL Women of Canada, Focus on the Family Canada has opposed a publicly delivered national child care program, same-sex marriage, and gay rights in general (including the right of gay couples to adopt children.) It is anti abortion and promotes spanking in the interests of child discipline….

But the social and religious conservatives are less interested in promoting real choices than in promoting a traditional family model in which women are expected to stay at home for extended periods to care for children. That is why they not only call for tax measures to subsidize stay at home parenting, but also oppose government spending on badly needed childcare services.

And that is likely why Finance Minister Flaherty exposed a rift in his Conservative Party when he said of income splitting: “I’m not sure that overall it benefits our society.”

No it doesn’t. Canadian families deserve better.

Read the article online


2014 Federal Budget


Response and analysis of the federal budget 
CCPA staff and Alternative Federal Budget partners

– – – – –

Federal Budget 2014: No help for families here
February 12, 2014

The Harper government claims that this year’s federal budget will create jobs and stimulate the economy but in reality, it’s just more of the same old austerity story. Flaherty says the budget will address unemployment yet it offers nothing for families struggling to access affordable child care. Canada’s ongoing crisis in child care across the country, marked by exorbitant parent fees, a shortage of regulated spaces, low staff wages and quality issues as well as the abysmal failure of the market model, is once again sidelined in the budget.

As a result:

• The majority of Canadian families with children under 5, faced with unaffordable fees and a critical shortage of spaces, will continue to turn to unregulated care.

• Canada’s commitment to ending child poverty will continue to lag behind.

• Canada will continue to rank last among 25 developed countries in meeting the minimum benchmarks for early childhood education and care (UNICEF).

• Canada will continue to fail to meet its international treaty obligations as a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

There are solutions that would support all Canadian families – check out the Alternative Federal Budget

– – – – –

Budget 2014: Children in Poverty Wait while Surplus Accumulates
Campaign 2000

Globe and Mail Series on Child Care – selected articles and excerpts

What might a national daycare program cost?
The Globe and Mail
Research: Lynell Anderson and Paul Kershaw of the Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health

Read online


PEI and Quebec offer lessons on improving child care across Canada
SOURIS, PEI — The Globe and Mail
Oct. 24 2013

For a top-notch child-care system close to home, Canadians should look to the country’s smallest province.

Over the past two years, Prince Edward Island has launched what many experts consider the most comprehensive child-care strategy since Quebec brought in its renowned low-fee program in 1997….

Here are 10 lessons that should guide a national discussion to improve child care in the rest of the country.

1. Make the economic case clear….
2. Call it education….
3. Create enough regulated care spaces….
4. Make fees affordable, consistent – and capped….
5. Train the teachers – and pay them for it….
6. Location, location, location….
7. Infant care is complicated….
8. After-school care shouldn’t be an afterthought….
9. Parents are part of the system….
10. Set a target, track your progress….

Currently, Canadian governments are using drips of money to put a Band-Aid on a broken system, suggests Peter Moss, an international child-care expert at the Institute of Education at the University of London, “instead of sitting down saying, ‘This is the model we want to move towards – and it’s going to be done step by step.'”

That also means, he says, accepting that a high-quality system may take decades to build.

That requires policy-makers to have good statistics to plan where child-care spaces are needed, to track whether program targets are being met and to be accountable to taxpayers. As it stands, provinces don’t clearly know how many families are currently on wait lists for regulated spots, let alone how many are using unlicensed care – which a mandatory public registry could correct….

Read online


The real parent trap: daycare costs
The Globe and Mail
Oct. 23 2013

It’s natural for young families to face financial pressures as they juggle the cost of housing and kids….

Daycare is the hidden menace, financially. It’s amazing that such a massive cost gets so little mention outside gatherings of cash-poor parents. A study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development indicates that upper-income Canadian families with two working parents pay the equivalent of 18 per cent of their net income, on average, for daycare. In a separate study, monthly average costs for infants range from $1,152 in Ontario to $631 in Manitoba. Quebec, the outlier, averages $152.

Average monthly fees, full-day daycare centres by age group in 2012 – See chart


Desperation forces parents into ‘grey market’ of unlicensed daycare
The Globe and Mail
Oct. 22 2013

A shortage of government-regulated space is among Canada’s most pressing child-care problems.

Across the country, families are forced to rely on the “grey market” – leaving their children with caregivers who may not even have first-aid training, paying whatever is asked, and hoping for the best….

But to expand regulated child care, Canada would have to overcome its current shortage of certified educators – a problem compounded by their low pay and high turnover….

Read online


The case for publicly funded child care in Canada
The Globe and Mail
Oct. 20 2013

“In last week’s 7,100-word Throne Speech, child care got 64 of them.”

Read online


The procreative class: How cities can help on the child-care front
The Globe and Mail
Oct. 21 2013

In 2004, when he published his bestselling The Rise of the Creative Class, University of Toronto urban scholar Richard Florida says that cities were neglecting talented young professionals – couples like Gillian and Chris Quigley, cosmopolitan twentysomethings who arrived a few years ago from London, keen to live in the heart of Vancouver.

Read online

Hard on Families, Light on Crime: Some Thoughts on the Throne Speech

Kate McInturff, CCPA Blog Behind the Numbers [Kate McInturff is a CCPA research associate and an expert on gender budgeting and women’s human rights.]

The Throne Speech had a lot to say about Canadian families. The Government promised to make “the right choices” for Canadian families. Just like the choices it has made so far. The Government promised safety and security for Canadian families. Not to mention lower cable bills.

How do those promises measure up against reality?

First, let’s be clear about which Canadian family we are talking about. The Throne Speech, like the 2013 Federal Budget, claimed that the “average family” was now saving an additional $3220 in taxes as a result of specific tax measure introduced in the past 5 years. Measures like the reduction in GST and new child tax credits. However, the Government’s math on this one is a little tricky. So is their definition of “average.”

Assuming the “average family” in the Throne Speech is the same “average family” in the Federal Budget, that family is defined as two parents with two children. However, not all two-parent, two-children families are created equal. Depending on how many parents are working and which parent is working, average family incomes can range from $37,500/year to $136,700/year. The only way the Government’s tax math makes sense is if the family in question is a two-earner, two-parent family with an average pre-tax income of $115,000/year, ruling out the 73% of Canadian families who earn less than that.

Here is a little more tricky math for Canadian families: in order for that particular double-earner family of four to save that extra $3220, they have to spend $2000 on fitness and art classes for their children (to get the maximum $300 tax credit) and they will have to spend a whopping $50,000 on taxable goods and services (to save $1000 from that 2% reduction in GST).

The final irony is that with two working parents and two children, this “average” family will certainly need childcare. For a government that claims to understand “the daily pressures ordinary Canadian families face,” they seem to be significantly underestimating the pressure of finding affordable and safe childcare spaces. The government has done nothing to increase the number of safe, affordable childcare spaces available to working parents, and the Universal Child Care Benefit, at a maximum of $1,200/year, doesn’t come close to the cost of having two children in childcare (which can exceed $24,000/year depending on where you live).

The majority of Canadian families are left out of this picture. Not to mention the majority of Canadians. While the Government promises to be guided by the choices families make in its own economic policies, those policies have consistently left the female half of Canadian families out in the cold….

Read online

Childcare red tape is keeping children safe

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

By Lisa Bryant, childcare consultant and NSW convener of Australian Community Children’s Services, an advocate for not-for-profit childcare centres

Nine children died while in childcare in Minnesota last year. In the same year in Australia, no child suffered an accidental death at a childcare service.

In the US, where there is great resistance to the intervention of government into business, the lack of regulation of childcare has resulted in a shambolic system in which children’s lives are often in danger.

Australia, on the other hand, has had regulated childcare for decades. Companies and organisations that care for children are bound by numerous regulations that spell out everything from how much indoor and outdoor space each child must be allocated to the number of educators centres must employ and the qualifications these educators must hold.

Regulating childcare in Australia used to be a matter for individual states and territories. Last year, after a long process of negotiation through the Council of Australian Governments, the first national regulations for education and care services were introduced.

In opposition, the Coalition long complained about these regulations, but waited until just two days before the election to release its ”Better Child Care and Early Learning” policy. Its second pledge was to reduce the ”red tape” of the regulations that govern the sector.

The particular regulations highlighted for review were staffing ratios and qualification requirements for childcare workers. Interestingly these were the two areas that necessitated the development of the new national regulations. The Rudd-Gillard governments, in an attempt to raise the quality of childcare, had focused on the two elements that research over decades has unequivocally shown raises the quality of early education for children: having more and more qualified educators within our childcare services. These two components are now the ones on the chopping block.

When childcare services were first established in the Whitlam era, most were community based, set up by local councils or groups of parents. During the Howard era, the dominance of these not-for-profit childcare services dwindled as operational subsidies were removed to allow for for-profit private operators to the industry. It was then that the now defunct ABC Learning grew until it provided 25 per cent of all childcare in Australia – before going into receivership. While these services are now owned by the not-for-profit organisation Goodstart, many smaller companies, including small family-owned ones, entered the market after ABC Learning talked up the profits that could be made.

What these operators failed to realise is that it is actually difficult to make money in childcare. There is an inevitable tension between quality and costs. The families who are your customers demand higher quality and yet it is this same high quality that cuts into your profits.

And it is along this line that support for the red tape of childcare cleaves. The majority of not-for-profit providers support the red tape that demands higher qualifications and more staff in centres. A vocal majority of for-profit operators oppose it. In an industry in which between 60 and 80 per cent of turnover goes to wages, every extra staff member you are required to employ cuts deeply into profits.

Market researcher IBIS World describes the industry as having ”shrinking margins for operators” where ”the dominance of non-profit operators … promises to be the defining story of the industry in the long term”.

While in opposition the Coalition took the complaints of the for-profit operators to heart. The story of an industry beset by nasty red tape put on it by the Labor government was easy to sell. But the red tape the Coalition is promising to cut is the same tape that improves the quality of childcare and, at the extreme end, saves children’s lives.

Read online

Is federal child care benefit good use of tax dollars?

By: Laurie Monsebraaten

Before Ottawa doles out any more financial goodies to families, it needs to tell taxpayers where the child care money went, researcher says.

By the end of this fiscal year, the Harper government will have spent about $17.5 billion on the Universal Child Care Benefit.

But nobody knows how parents are actually spending the monthly $100 benefit that goes to every child under age 6, says a new research paper being released Tuesday.

Ottawa can’t say if the money has eased the severe shortage of child care in Canada where more than three-quarters of mothers with young families work and where there are licensed spots for only 21 per cent of kids under age 12.

It doesn’t know if the money has made child care more affordable. Nor can the government say if the monthly cheques have helped more parents stay home with their young children, said child care expert Martha Friendly in her report…..

If Ottawa had put the money toward a national child care program, it would have funded an additional 700,000 spaces at the current average of $3,615 per space in public spending, she said….

Read online

Canada ranked 17th out of 29 wealthy countries in child well being index by UNICEF

Report Card 11: measures development according to five dimensions of children’s lives – material well-being, health and safety, education, behaviour and risks, and housing and environment.

…. the impact of public spending cuts and belt-tightening spells real hardship for poor children and families.

It is hard to say how deep and sustained the current financial crisis might be. What is clear, however, is that its results will be seen in the coming years, based as much on policies taken to safeguard the rights of children and youth during this crisis as on the crisis, itself.

….. The report finds that the Netherlands and three Nordic countries – Finland, Iceland and Norway – again sit at the top of a child well-being table….

More at:

Federal Budget 2013

Tories are ignoring children and families

By Marc Lalonde, director of communications for the Early Childhood Educators of B.C. and Sharon Gregson, Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. and director of child and family development services at Collingwood Neighbourhood House Society
Times Colonist
March 29, 2013

The federal government states its priorities are jobs and a strong economy, yet it ignores the best method to achieve both these goals.

There is a way to dramatically increase employment and government revenue, grow GDP and pump money into local economies. The Conservative government of Canada is ignoring what experts and business leaders agree on — that investing in children’s early years provides the biggest bang for the taxpayers’ buck.

The evidence and research is undeniable. A 2009 Canadian study by the Centre for Spatial Economics reports that investing in child care has a bigger job-multiplier effect and more employment-per-dollar activity than any other sector.

In Quebec, a publicly funded child-care system made it possible for an additional 70,000 mothers of young children to enter the labour force. Their employment contributed an additional $5.2 billion to the Quebec economy and increased GDP by 1.7 per cent. The returns more than pay for the investment Quebec makes in child care. According to the C.D. Howe Institute, the Quebec model of a cost-shared, publicly funded child-care system increased immediate tax revenue to government by 40 per cent.

According to respected economist Robert Fairholm, child care creates strong economic stimulus, where every dollar invested in child care increases the economy’s output (GDP) by $2.02, one of the highest GDP impacts of all major sectors.

The World Bank published a major report in 2011 on the benefits of investing in the early years and stated a potential annual return rate of seven to 16 per cent, and proclaimed it to be a sound fiscal investment. The Economist magazine commissioned its own study, Starting Well: Benchmarking Early Education Across the World, and stated: “As countries increasingly compete on the basis of their talent and human capital, they need to invest in all their people as early in life as possible.”

The same report said: “The first is simply about ensuring that ECE [early childhood education] is on the policy radar and not overlooked in the battle for funding.”

Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman found that investing in the early years promotes long-term success in education, raises the quality of the work force, raises income levels and reduces crime, teenage pregnancy, welfare dependency and health-care costs.

Why is our government ignoring these facts?

In 2012, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children Committee wrote a scathing review of Canada’s poor performance in meeting the basic rights of our children, citing the “high cost of child care, lack of available places, the absence of uniform training requirements for all child-care staff and of standards of quality care … despite the state party’s significant resources.”

Since the 2006 inception of the Universal Child Care Benefit (the federal government’s $100-a-month taxable payment to families) the program has cost Canadians $15 billion without creating one new child-care space for families, and with absolutely no accountability to taxpayers.

There is a severe lack of affordable, regulated child-care spaces, particularly for children under three years old. In a recently televised investigation of unlicensed child care, CBC’s Marketplace was able to document many examples of children left in illegal and unsafe arrangements. Clearly, too many Canadian parents have nothing but bad choices available to them.

The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development ranked Canada last of the 20 wealthiest countries for investment in the early years with a meagre 0.25 per cent of GDP. As the Conference Board of Canada recognizes in its February 2013 report on inequality in Canada, as other nations prosper and develop a more diverse tax base, Canada will head toward a nation of “have and have-nots.” As the leading economic nations of the world develop their populations as collaborative forces of highly skilled, knowledge-based labourers, Canada will be left behind as simply a natural-resource provider.

Investing in the early years is unquestionably the best economic strategy for a nation. The real question is: Why does the Harper government refuse to live up to its promise of job creation and a strong economy, by ignoring the children and tax-paying working parents of this country?

Read online

– – – – –

New shoes and a haircut: Budget 2013 not so pretty for women in Canada
By Kate McInturff
March 21, 2013

The Finance Minister got a new pair of shoes. Canadians got a new federal budget. And women in Canada got another haircut.

Budget 2013 is all about Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! And who wouldn’t like a job. Maybe some training. Maybe even a full-time job. With benefits. And a pension plan. Oh go crazy, let’s throw in equal pay.

Not so fast girls! NO JOB FOR YOU!

Why not?

1. Women and the extractive industry

The federal budget’s job creation strategy is largely focused on sectors where women are significantly under-represented: construction, manufacturing, mining. 18.6 per cent of jobs in the mining, quarrying, oil, and gas extraction industries in Canada are held by women. If you are part of the 18.6 per cent, you are still going to take a 20-30 per cent haircut on your wages. Because, oh yes, pay inequity is alive and well in the extractive industry.

Although the extractive sector anticipates increasing shortages of workers, only 14.6 per cent have recruitment policies targeted at women. But do women want those jobs? (Mucky! Dirty! Unfeminine!) Yes Virginia, there are women who want to work in the extractive sector. But those women have identified several barriers to taking up that work, including:

1) the lack of child-care and flexible work practices (because who is going to look after the kids while you spend two weeks on the mining site?);
2) a hostile “work culture”; and
3) the lack of women in management positions.

Oddly enough, managers in the extractive industries did not identify these barriers. Could it be that the real mismatch is between the needs of workers and the perceptions of employers?

2. Women and infrastructure spending

Budget 2013 appears to set out a fresh wave of much-needed infrastructure spending. However, this budget actually represents a reduction in spending. The Building Canada Fund has been reduced to $210 million in 2014-15 from its previous level of $1.25 billion a year. All other funding for infrastructure in the federal budget is a re-announcement of pre-existing programs. The infrastructure spending that is included in Budget 2013 is also set to create new jobs. Unfortunately, infrastructure spending creates jobs where women are not.

According to the most recent labor force survey, there are 382,100 Canadians working in construction. 6 per cent of those workers are women. Budget 2013 argues that we are going to need to fill an additional 319,000 jobs in construction by 2020. If women’s participation in the construction trade were increased to 30 per cent by the same year, that would contribute 194,730 new workers to fill the shortfall (with 124,270 new jobs for male workers).

If we are going to support the workers we need to fill those jobs, however, we are going to have to look at the same set of barriers women in the mining industry identified — the need for child care and work hours that accommodate the fact that women still do two-thirds of all unpaid labor; a shift in workplace cultures that subject women to harassment and bullying; and more women managers whose presence will signal to young workers that this is a field in which they can advance.

How does Budget 2013 propose to solve this problem of connecting workers and jobs? By investing $300 million in a “Canada Job Grant” program. The Canada Job Grant Program provides federal matching funds of up to $5000 per person to the employer. In industries where there is a clear mismatch between employee needs and employers understanding of those needs, putting these “job grants” in the hands of the employer seems like not such a good idea — particularly when there is a skilled workforce out there, looking for these jobs, but unable to access them for lack of social supports, such as child care, and equity guarantees.

Here’s a thought, how about we start saying pay equity like we mean it and how about we put that $300 million into safe, quality childcare for workers in those industries? Given the ridiculously long waiting lists for unaffordable and significantly unregulated child-care spots across Canada, there are bound to be plenty of women (and men) who would take any job anywhere if it came with safe, quality, subsidized child care.

3. Private sector jobs

Budget 2013 continues the program of shifting job creation to the private sector, while cutting jobs in the public sector. Women looking for work in the private sector can expect to make $2000 less <> a year on average than they do in the public sector, have less support for savings for retirement, and see the discount on their pay increase.

The public sector is one of the few places where women see smaller pay gaps (only a 20 per cent discount on their work vs. 28 per cent on average) and greater gains in hiring and promotion. That said, even these gains have been significantly undermined, first in the 2009 Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, which stripped public employees of the right to pay equity and again in 2012, when Bill C-38 made similar changes to the Federal Contractors Program, leaving compliance with the Employment Equity Act for contractors of the federal government to the discretion of the Minister. Marjorie Griffin Cohen points out that “there would be no reason to change this legislation if the Minister intended to continue to apply the employment equity provisions.”

It’s clear that an investment in creating jobs in the public sector (or at least not cutting them) would be good for women’s employment, but what else has it done for us lately? An investment in public sector social infrastructure, in fields such as health care, child care, and education, would yield a double benefit. It would create more jobs in sectors in which women are likely to be employed and would decrease the burden of unpaid work for both men and women. It’s not a big, shiny bridge or sexy “cyber-infrastructure,” but it is what keeps us healthy, educated, and just a little less sleep-deprived.

And that is some action I’d like to see.

Read online

Alternative Federal Budget 2013 – Doing Better Together

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

This year’s AFB shows how growth-killing austerity can be replaced by a plan that strengthens the economy, leads to a better quality of life for all Canadians, and eliminates the deficit by 2016.

AFB 3 budget docs at

Related article:

Group claims budget can balance with spending
The Daily Courier (Kelowna)
March 13 2013

… The proposals are contained in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ annual alternative federal budget, which was released Tuesday. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has already dismissed it out of hand, sight unseen.

Flaherty said on Friday he has no intentions of ramping up spending to stimulate the weak economy, and instead plans to trim further in order to meet his 2015 balanced budget target.

But the CCPA argues that Flaherty is going about it all wrong, and that his policies will only guarantee continued slow growth for Canada.

Economists believe Canada’s economy will advance by only about 1.7 per cent this year, similar to last year, constituting the worst two years of growth since the recession.

The think-tank points out that austerity has done little in Europe but help sink the continent’s economies, while at the same time driving up deficits as revenues collapsed.

“Canada has a growth problem, not a deficit problem,” says alternative budget co-ordinator David Macdonald.

“More cuts will only lead to less growth and fewer opportunities for Canadians.”

The group notes that at 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product — the economy’s total annual output — and with interest rates at record lows, there’s no reason for Ottawa to obsess about the deficit…

Instead, Flaherty should be investing billions of dollars to rebuild Canada’s infrastructure and in measures to reduce poverty through investments in child care, pharmacare, affordable housing, post-secondary education, and better income supports.

If all the proposals are adopted, the CCPA believes Ottawa will create 300,000 additional jobs and drive down the unemployment rate one point to six per cent by 2014.

To pay for the investments, the alternative budget calls for the creation of a new 35-per-cent tax bracket to kick in on income over $250,000, and a roll-back of corporate tax cuts, which it argues enabled firms to stockpile over $600 billion in cash and securities.

Remembering Clyde Hertzman

The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC joins all those across BC, Canada and beyond who are mourning the untimely passing of Clyde Hertzman.

It is difficult to find words to capture the unique contribution that Clyde made to the public dialogue about and understanding of the importance of the early years. He literally put BC’s young children ‘on the map’.

For us, two things stand out. The first was Clyde’s connection with and belief in community. His well deserved degrees, titles and honours never got in the way of his respect for the work that early childhood educators, teachers, families and others do on the ground. He was genuine and approachable, always willing to engage in respectful dialogue about how best to move our common agenda forward.

Clyde’s willingness to draw out the public policy implications of his research was also very special. Whether it be the role supportive neighbourhoods play in fostering resilience, the value of universal approaches or the lack of affordable, quality child care – Clyde made sure that his research did not gather dust on a shelf. He was a strong and powerful spokesperson for change to improve the lives of young children and their families.

We extend our sympathies to Clyde’s family and colleagues. We will miss him deeply and will keep his energy and wisdom close to our hearts as we carry on the struggle.

Tributes to Clyde can be shared on the Human Early Learning Partnership website.

United Nations Committee on Rights of the Child representative concludes four-day visit to Canada

Media release from CCCYA, an alliance of 10 independent provincial and territorial children’s advocates, appointed by their legislatures. Although their mandates differ according to legislation that establishes each office, they share a common commitment to further the voice, rights and dignity of children, especially vulnerable children.

OTTAWA /CNW/ – The vice-president of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child today wraps up her four-day visit to Canada which included stops in Ontario, New Brunswick and Québec.

The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) invited Marta Maurás of Chile to visit Canada to observe first-hand this country’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Maurás’ visit closely follows the recommendations issued by the Committee regarding the third and fourth periodic report of Canada’s implementation of the UN Convention, presented this past September in Geneva, Switzerland.

As part of that review, the UN expressed concern over the lack of improvement to Canada’s child poverty rate, continuing Canadian health issues such as unhealthy weights and child mental illness, and inadequate monitoring mechanisms for tracking the well-being of children. The review also found insufficient co-ordination between various levels of government when it comes to serving Canadian children, and unclear accounting of government spending on children.

Maurás has heard directly from many Canadian children and youth during her visit. Among the stops on her tour were: a youth forum in Toronto; a Talking Circle with youth hosted by Elsipogtog First Nation – New Brunswick’s largest Mi’kmaq community; a visit with youth at residential rehabilitation units in Montreal; and a meeting at the Canadian Human Rights Commission in Ottawa.

“According to the UNICEF scorecard for industrialized countries, Canada stands 24th out of 35, with one in seven children – and one in four First Nations children – living in poverty,” Maurás said. “This is a clear deterioration from 10 years ago. Issues of low-quality welfare services – particularly for the many children placed out of their homes for care – domestic violence, bullying and ill mental health affect children, especially if they are Aboriginal or Afro-Canadian, immigrants or suffer from some form of disability. Canada can afford to do better. This is the challenge presented by the Concluding Observations and Recommendations by the UN Committee.”

CCCYA President Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said it was important for Maurás to visit Canada first-hand, to meet with government and non-government agencies and to hear directly the concerns of children and the country’s child and youth advocates.

In February 2012, the CCCYA presented its report on Aboriginal children – Canada Must Do Better: Today and Tomorrow – to the UN Committee during Canada’s pre-session in Geneva. The report urged government to address the key systemic rights issue in Canada – the health, education and safety of Aboriginal children and youth.

“Child advocates across Canada share a number of concerns, including the over-representation of Aboriginal children in care and the quality of services those children receive, child poverty rates, and the lack of consistency when it comes to youth mental health treatment. We are confident this visit will help further inform the UN on the status of Canada’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth.

Maurás said “important steps have been taken in recent years in Canada to address, for example, sexual exploitation and pornography on the Internet. But much more can be done in the short-term to improve the situation of children, such as eliminating fees for early childhood care and pre-school education, and passing legislation to ban corporal punishment.”

She regretted that Bill C-420 to create a national Children’s Commissioner was not passed by Parliament as it represented “a good step forward to ensure that an independent body monitors the application of the Convention in a comprehensive way and that children have a complaints mechanism to resort to if their rights are violated.”

David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO, said “the visit of Ms. Maurás is a timely reminder that the well-being and rights of the children of this country must be given a higher priority. While the primary obligation to implement the Committee’s recommendations rests with government, the responsibility to create a better life for all children rests with each and every one of us in Canada.”

Read online

A number is never just a number: In search of child care

Trish Hennessy’s Index, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

3 million
Number of Canadian moms of children aged 12 or younger who work in the paid labour force.

Percentage of Canadian moms of children aged three to five who work in the paid labour force.

Percentage of children under the age of six in Canada who don’t have the option of regulated child care because there aren’t enough spaces to go around.

Percentage of all child-care spaces across Canada that are operated for profit. It’s the fastest growing segment of child-care provision in Canada.

Percentage of Canada’s GDP that is spent on early childhood education and child care, falling short of the one per cent of GDP both UNICEF and the OECD recommend governments devote to such programs for children under five, as a minimum.

Monthly fee for an infant at a downtown Toronto non-profit child-care centre in November 2012 — among the highest fees in Canada.

Monthly fee for a child-care space in Quebec, one of only three provinces with a low-fee policy in place. Quebec provides, by far, the lowest child-care fees in Canada.

Total number of child-care spaces for 0-12-year-olds in Saskatchewan, the province with the lowest percentage of children in regulated child care.

Total child-care spaces for children under 12 in Quebec, the province with the highest percentage of children in regulated child care.

Year the Royal Commission on the Status of Women first recommended a national child-care program. Thirty-five years later, the short-lived Paul Martin Liberal government began the process to implement that recommendation. Sources: Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada. (1970). Government of Canada: Ottawa.

Number of hours between Stephen Harper’s first swearing-in as Prime Minister of Canada in 2006 and his cancellation of the Liberals’ nascent national child-care program.

Amount of the monthly cheque Canadian families with a child under age six receive in lieu of a national child-care program. With the exception of Quebec, the cheque falls far short of average child-care fees, which are about five to 10 times higher than the value of the $100 after tax.

Percentage of child-care program costs that families in every province and territory outside of Quebec cover. The TD Bank says that’s the fourth highest ratio among select OECD countries, where government investments help cover costs.

$1.50 to $3
Estimated return on investment for every dollar spent on early childhood education, according to the TD Bank. It’s an even greater return for children from disadvantaged families.

* The SOURCE for each stat is listed at


Poverty Reduction Plan for British Columbia


The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition has launched a call to the Government of British Columbia for a comprehensive poverty reduction plan that includes legislated targets and timelines;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Vancouver City Council reaffirms its endorsement of the Coalition’s Call for a Poverty Reduction Plan

Join the Call

…. we call upon the province to commit to specific policy measures and concrete actions in each of the following policy areas:

  1. Provide adequate and accessible income support for the non-employed, and remove policy barriers so that recipients can build and maintain assets.
  2. Improve the earnings and working conditions of those in the low-wage workforce.
  3. Improve food security for low-income individuals and families.
  4. Address homelessness and adopt a comprehensive affordable housing and supportive housing plan.
  5. Provide universal publicly-funded child care.
  6. Enhanced support for training and education for low-income people.
  7. Enhance community mental health and home support services, and expand integrated approaches to prevention and health promotion services.

New report from TD Bank: “The earlier you invest, the bigger the payout you get”

Boost child care spending for big payoff, bank urges

Ottawa Citizen
By Matthew Pearson

OTTAWA — A new report from TD Bank urges federal and provincial governments to invest heavily in the child care sector once the economy improves, but leading advocates say children and families desperate to find spaces in quality programs now shouldn’t have to wait that long.

The report by TD’s chief economist Craig Alexander confirms what proponents of early childhood education have said for more than two decades.

Quality child care programs lead to superior cognitive and language development, as well as improved numeracy. Children who enter the school system after being in child care repeat grades less often, usually graduate on time and have a higher likelihood of attending college or university.

The effects of positive educational experiences in the early years ripple throughout a child’s life, often leading to better job prospects, higher earnings and less chance of ending up in poverty.

“The biggest bang you get for your government dollar in terms of investment is investment in education in young individuals,” Alexander said in an interview.

“The earlier you invest, the bigger the payout you get.”

But the benefits extend far beyond children.

Access to child care allows parents to return to work or upgrade their skills, while employers benefit from having workers who aren’t stressed about their children’s safety and security during the work day.

And numerous studies suggest the return on investment ranges from $1.50 to nearly $3 for every dollar spent on early childhood education. The figure grows to double digits for children from disadvantaged families.

Despite the compelling evidence, child care programs in Canada are insufficiently funded and continue to be rolled out in a piecemeal fashion.

“One of the challenges we have as a country is we view early child care almost as welfare, whereas it really should be thought of as education and development,” Alexander said.

Canada spends just one quarter of one per cent of its annual GDP on child care, putting it dead last among comparable European and English-speaking countries, the report says.

Even after factoring in family support — including child payments, parental leave benefits and child care support — public spending in Canada is 17 per cent below the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) average.

Families in every province and territory outside of Quebec cover 50 per cent of child care program costs — the fourth highest ratio among select OECD countries.

Alexander said he was “very surprised” to find out how little we spend compared to other countries.

“I generally think of Canada as having a very strong emphasis on education and skills development and I would have expected Canada, if not at the top of the pack, to at least be pretty close to the average,” he said.

In fact, Canada would have to pump $3 billion to $4 billion into the sector just to bring us up to the average of other industrialized nations, the report says.

Advocates say the time to act is now.

“We shouldn’t make a generation of children wait,” said MP Chris Charlton, the NDP’s spokeswoman on child care issues.

“It really does just take political will at the national level to make it a priority.”

The head of an Ottawa child care agency welcomed the report, but agreed governments shouldn’t wait to make much-needed investments in the sector.

“Since we know that high-quality care encourages employment, maybe it isn’t appropriate to wait. Maybe some of the challenges that we’re facing are because people can’t access high-quality care,” said Kim Hiscott, the executive director of Andrew Fleck Child Care Services.

She said the Quebec model — where parents pay $7 a day for child care — should be emulated in other parts of the country.

Even raising the fee to as high as $10 per day would allow families to make ends meet and still make it possible for agencies to pay workers a fair wage, Hiscott said.

By comparison, the daily fee for toddlers at her centres now is $70 per day….

But injecting millions into the child care sector at a time when governments across the country are under pressure to balance the books would be a hard sell, Alexander said.

“I don’t think that’s a realistic ask in the current environment.”

He hopes the report will highlight the value of investing in child care so policy-makers down the road will increase funding once their governments have the money to do so.

While numerous provinces are currently increasing investments in the early years, a national child care strategy remains notably absent….

Needed: An Action Plan to Eradicate Child and Family Poverty in Canada

National Campaign 2000 Report Card, 2012

This year marks 23 years since the unanimous House of Commons’ resolution to end child poverty in Canada by 2000 and three years since the unanimous House of Commons resolution “to develop an immediate plan to end poverty for all in Canada”.

Campaign 2000 urges Ottawa to eliminate child tax credits and use money to fight poverty
Toronto Star
November 21, 2012
Laurie Monsebraaten

Ottawa should streamline the “hodgepodge” of federal child tax credits and use the money to lift more children out of poverty, says Campaign 2000.

On the 23rd anniversary of a unanimous House of Commons pledge to eradicate child poverty by the year 2000, the national coalition is once again calling for a federal plan with goals and timelines to get the job done.

With one in seven Canadian children — including one in four in First Nations communities — still living in poverty, this year’s progress report goes after Ottawa’s “inefficient” tax system.

It takes aim at the “misnamed” Universal Child Care Benefit that provides $100-per-month for children under age 6; the “regressive” Child Tax Credit that reduces federal income taxes by about $300; and the Child Fitness Credit, worth a maximum of $75 per child.

All three should be eliminated and the resources redirected to boost the National Child Benefit to a maximum of $5,400 a year, up from the current maximum of $3,485, the coalition says.

At $5,400, a single parent with one child who is working full-time at $11 an hour would be able to escape poverty.

More broadly, it would cut Canada’s child poverty rate by 15 per cent and lift 174,000 children out of poverty.

Ottawa would only have to contribute an additional $174 million, the report says. This would drop to just $74 million, if the recently announced Child Arts Tax Credit is also redirected to the child benefit.

Since more than 90 per cent of Canadian families receive the child benefit on a sliding scale based on income, the move would allow Ottawa to use its valuable resources in a more efficient and effective way to reduce child poverty, the coalition says in its report released Wednesday. On average, those families above the median family income ($68,860) would pay more taxes or lose benefits, while those below the median would be better off.

“Right now the federal government oversees a hodgepodge of family tax credits meant to help low- and middle-income families,” said Dr. Sid Frankel, associate professor of social work at the University of Manitoba.

“Applying for these tax credits can be complicated and require upfront expenditures that low income families don’t have,” he said. “As a result, those who need the credits most go without.”….

Campaign 2000 also calls on Ottawa to invest in a national child-care system, introduce a national housing strategy, restore and expand eligibility for Employment Insurance, address employment equity for “racialized communities” and improve funding for post-secondary education.

“Child poverty impairs our long-term national interests because it leads to higher heath-care costs and spending on social support services, lost productivity and limited opportunities,” the report said.


Government of Canada MIA on Child Poverty: Report
Campaign 2000/Canada Newswire
Nov 21 2012

Twenty-three years after the House of Commons unanimously voted to work together to eliminate child poverty the crisis is worse. Today, one in seven Canadian children live in poverty – one in four in First Nation’s communities – a reality that threatens our country’s future through higher healthcare costs, lost productivity and limited opportunities.

“Many of the provinces and a few municipalities have recognized the critical need to take action and have developed their own poverty reduction strategies. Thanks to their efforts we’re beginning to see some improvements in those jurisdictions,” says Rothman. “But they can’t do it alone. Without a coordinated federal action plan that sets out clear goals and provides the necessary resources the crisis of child poverty will continue.”

With the release of their annual report card entitled Needed: A Federal Action Plan to Eradicate Child and Family Poverty, Campaign 2000 sets out practical actions the Canadian government can take now that would reduce our child poverty rate by fifteen percent.

“Right now the federal government oversees a hodgepodge of family tax credits meant to help low and middle income families,” says Dr. Sid Frankel, associate professor of social work at the University of Manitoba. “Applying for these tax credits can be complicated and require up front expenditures that low income families don’t have, as a result those that need the credits most go without. The current credits also require multiple layers of administration, increasing costs for the government. If the federal government streamlined all current family and child tax credits into one, dispersed on a sliding scale based on income to a maximum of $5,400 per year, 174,000 children would be lifted out of poverty.”

The report also highlights the need for a national strategy on good jobs and affordable housing, as well as greater investment in regulated, not-for-profit childcare as critical to building a strong future for all Canadian families….