Scathing national report sheds light on child poverty in Canada

The child poverty rate is higher (18.5%) for children under six than all children.
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TORONTO, Nov. 22, 2021 / – It’s a huge number. If children in poverty had their own province, that province would have a bigger population than Saskatchewan. A new report from 120 national, provincial, and community organizations hosted by Family Services Toronto finds poverty reduction has stalled, and given the impacts of the pandemic, it is likely to increase in the next few years. An incredibly fast rise in inflation and cost of living, especially housing already has Canadians panicking about the cost of living and the this report will not assuage those concerns. Food banks are seeing unprecedented levels of demand which puts immediate pressure on the system for those most in need.

Thirty-two years ago to the date, on the heels of signing the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the federal government made a promise to end child poverty by the year 2000. A new report card by Campaign 2000 finds, despite that promise, more than 1.31 million children are still living in poverty. 

Using the latest data available (from 2019) this report paints a stark picture of income, health and social inequalities and deepening levels of child and family poverty. Parliament starts its new mandate this week, and the pressure will be on to deliver an inclusive recovery plan from over 120 national, provincial, and community organizations hosted by Family Services Toronto.

The new national report, No One Left Behind: Strategies for an Inclusive Recovery, examines poverty through a social determinant of health framework. It is accompanied by an interactive map that shows that child poverty is a significant issue in every federal riding across the country. The report finds disproportionately higher rates of child poverty among communities marginalized by systemic barriers.

“The data shows that children are living in deeper poverty and programs like the Canada Child Benefit aren’t reaching them. Our year over year analysis shows that only 24,000 kids were lifted out of poverty in 2019. At this rate, it would take another 54 years to end child poverty.”

Leila Sarangi, National Director of Campaign 2000

The report critically highlights the circumstances of low-income immigrants, refugees, and non-status people, a majority of whom are racialized. These communities have been hard hit by the impact of COVID-19 with higher rates of unemployment, poverty, gender-based violence, and poor health outcomes according to Shalini Konanur, Lawyer/Executive Director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario and Steering Committee Member of the Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change.

People with disabilities were facing financial hardship prior to the pandemic and are faced with even more disadvantages now. Over 41% of people living in poverty are disabled. They are wondering whether they will even be included in any recovery plans.

“Some people with disabilities are considering end of life because they cannot afford to live.”

Rabia Khedr, National Director of Disability Without Poverty and Founder of DEEN Support Services and Race and Disability Canada

Widening inequality gaps are driven by barriers to accessing good jobs, income and social supports, while wealth is accumulating at the top of the income distribution. The report card offers an anti-poverty platform that includes 60 recommendations addressing inequality, income security, housing, childcare, decent work and healthcare.  

Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan, pan-Canadian network of 120 national, provincial and community partner organizations committed to working to end child and family poverty, hosted by Family Service Toronto. To download 2021 report cards or for more information, please visit http://www.campaign2000.ca.


Key Findings from the 2021 National Report Card, No One Left Behind: Strategies for an Inclusive Recovery

  • Nearly 1 in 5 children lived in poverty (1,313,400 or 17.7%) in 2019
  • The national child poverty rate declined by .5 of a percentage point between 2018-2019, representing an additional 24,170 lifted out of poverty. At this rate, it would take 54 more years to end child poverty.
  • The child poverty rate is higher (18.5%) for children under six than all children.
  • Children are living in deeper poverty. For example, the average single parent family with 2 children living in low income was $13,262 away from the CFLIM-AT in 2019, compared to $9,612 away in 2015. To reach the poverty line, a parent earning $15 per hour would need to work an additional 5.5 months full-time, assuming no taxes or deductions.
  • The reduction in poverty associated with the Canada Child Benefit will continue to stall. The benefit cannot move eligible families in deep poverty out. The maximum CCB is $6,833 for each child under six and $5,765 for each child between six and seventeen.
  • Canada’s universal childcare plan must include low income children with a sliding scale fee model of $0 to $10 maximum.
  • Care work should be decent work. The care economy (including health, childcare, education) represents 21.1% of all jobs and generates 12% of GDP, and must be central to an inclusive recovery.
  • Canada still needs a national pharmacare plan, which should be expanded to include dental, vision, rehabilitation.

As the 44th Canadian Parliament enters session, there will be pressure to deliver a COVID-19 recovery plan.  This report puts forward a platform that leaves no one behind. 

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