|A Campaign 2000 local partner||A United Way Member Agency|
On November 24,1989 the House of Commons resolved:
Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan, cross-Canada network of organizations that promotes the elimination of child poverty. On November 24, 1989, the House of Commons resolved: “to seek to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000.” To document the progress of Canada’s all party resolution, Campaign 2000 annually produces a report card on child poverty in Canada. In 1989, 1 in 7 children in Canada were living in poverty. Now in the year 2000, 1 in 5 Canadian children live in poverty. (Campaign 2000: Child Poverty in Canada Report Card 2000).
The Halton Social Planning Council is a community partner of Campaign 2000 and along with other partner organizations, produces a local report card on child poverty.
Many of Halton’s families and individuals are affluent. The average annual family income in Halton is $79,930. However, many of Halton’s families have incomes well below the Halton average. In fact, 58,600 families in Halton (61%) have incomes below the average income level and of these families, 12,230 (13%) have annual incomes below $29,000 (Statistics Canada, 1996).
Although there are no official measures of poverty, the most common indicator is Statistics Canada’s “low income cut-offs” often referred to as poverty lines. Low income cut-offs vary by size of community and family size.
“[Social Assistance] benefits are not enough just all across the board. I hear people say ‘Oh people on welfare have it so easy’ but they obviously haven’t been there.” (Participant: The Hidden Faces of Poverty, 2000)
The definition of poverty used in this report is Statistics Canada’s low income cut-offs. The most current Statistics Canada Census Data is 1996.
In Halton, 7,675 children aged 0-14 and 4,585 youth aged 15-24 are poor. This translates to:
Children are poor because their families are poor. In Halton, 7,140 families are poor, which translates to:
“I have been very fortunate, I have clothes for the kids because I know a lot of people who give me hand-me-downs. But you get so tired of saying ‘no’ because we can’t afford it. I went through four winters without a pair of winter boots. My coat was so thread bare I had to layer three sweaters underneath so I could stay warm outside.” (Participant: The Hidden Faces of Poverty, 2000)
In Halton, 8,630 unattached (single) individuals are poor. This translates to:
Women in Halton are more likely to be poor than men.
Poverty is a human construct. The way economic resources are distributed is not a function of unchangeable economic laws, but of political – that is, human — choices.
“I was a tax payer since the time I was 16. I never missed work, and I did everything the way you are supposed to do it, but it didn’t work out the way it’s supposed to. I ended up marrying someone that was abusive and then he left me holding the bag with two little ones. I understand why people stay in abusive relationships –what choice do they have?” (Participant: The Hidden Faces of Poverty, 2000)
“I have the education. I have college degrees and I went to university. I am trained in a lot of areas. I work part time and make $400 a month and get that topped up from social services but I need to work full-time. You have to keep looking and take what you can.” (Participant: The Hidden Faces of Poverty, 2000)
“There are a lot of people on the system not through choice but because of their situation and everyone’s situation is different. There were major cuts to our incomes in 1995. The poor are getting poorer. We are living in a two class society.” (Participant: The Hidden Faces of Poverty, 2000)
“We don’t eat healthy. We use the Salvation Army so that gives us the canned food. But we don’t eat well. The only time we have fresh veggies and fruit is through the community gardens, I have a garden this year. When we run out of milk, I don’t go to the store, we don’t drink milk for the rest of the week.” (Participant: The Hidden Faces of Poverty, 2000)
“Affordable housing is an issue in Halton. We just can’t afford to keep up with the rent and the children’s needs. There is a long waiting list. We have been on it for a while, but there is not just me on the list, there are so many people waiting. I was told the average waiting time is 5 years, if you’re on the short list possibly 3 years.” (Participant: The Hidden Faces of Poverty, 2000)
I’d like to see the government take care of children first. The Canadian government gives low income people money to help but local government takes it away. It’s an extra $50 per month. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t know what they are spending the money on but it doesn’t help people who are starving.” (Participant: The Hidden Faces of Poverty, 2000)
Many studies, including Statistics Canada’s National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, have demonstrated the links between poverty and child development.
“As family incomes fall, the risk of poor developmental outcomes in children’s health, behaviour, learning and socialization rise.” (Canadian Council on Social Development, Income and Child Well-being: A New Perspective on the Policy Debate, 1999)
“Child poverty is a source of risk to the health and well-being of children and that the condition of poverty limits a child’s life chances, which span a generation.” (Marvyn Novick, Campaign 2000, Fundamentals First: An Equal Opportunity From Birth for Every Child, 1999)
“Canadians with low incomes are more likely to suffer illness and to die than Canadians with high incomes.” (Federal, Provincial and Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health, Toward a Healthy Future Second Report on the Health of Canadians, 1999)
The National Children’s Agenda represents a commitment of our federal, provincial and territorial governments to act to ensure that all Canada’s children have the best possible opportunity to develop to their full potential as healthy, successful and contributing members of society. The Halton Social Planning Council recommends a full National Children’s Agenda that includes:
Jobs: job creation is a cornerstone in reducing child poverty – when families are working the cost of living is more affordable and there is less pressure on the social safety network.
Income Security: income security programs that prevent families from falling below the poverty line and programs such as the National Child Tax Benefit and Employment Insurance should be expanded to benefit all families.
Education and Training: reinvest and develop further education and employment training programs that reflect the current and future labour market needs.
Affordable Housing: increased funding to provide affordable and emergency housing and support programs.
Social Programs for Families and Children: a continuum of child and youth development services.
Join us in calling for the right recipe for the well-being of all Canadian children.
The Halton Social Planning Council is a community partner, with Campaign 2000, a non-partisan, cross-Canada network, promoting the elimination of child poverty.
For further information contact:
Halton Social Planning Council
860 Harrington Court
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3N4
Tel: (905) 632-1975, Fax: (905) 632-0778,