Today, Campaign 2000 releases its annual report on child and family poverty, Beyond the Pandemic: Rising Up for a Canada Free of Poverty. New findings show that prior to the pandemic, over 1,330,000 children in Canada lived in poverty, and the child poverty rate declined less than half a percentage point between 2017-2018 from 18.6% to 18.2%. Nearly 1 in 5 children continue to experience the harsh long-term consequences that poverty and discrimination have on social, mental and physical health and well-being.
Of concern, the report finds that child poverty rates grew in several provinces and territories, including Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Manitoba, and remained relatively unchanged in Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. The rates declined modestly in Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, Yukon and Northwest Territories. Examining the role of the Canada Child Benefit, we find that it had an important impact in the year it was first introduced, but the deteriorating effect on child poverty rates suggests that this impact was front-ended and waning.
Longstanding economic inequality and social and health inequalities have impacted the ability of many vulnerable families to weather the pandemic. Systemic discrimination, widespread precarious work, dismally inadequate social assistance rates, barriers to accessing government transfers, lack of available and affordable housing, childcare, medicare, and little movement towards true Reconciliation have left children and their families vulnerable to the negative health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic and excluded from emergency responses.
With today’s report, Campaign 2000 releases a set of recommendations designed for the federal government to address longstanding inequities head on. Recommendations include emphasis on collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments and organizations, targeted action to reduce poverty in communities marginalized by race, gender, ability and other equity dimensions with investments and policy reforms on income security, childcare, housing, youth, public health, decent work, and income inequality. These recommendations will ensure that all vulnerable families are included in short-term and long-term recovery efforts. Today’s report is launched alongside provincial and, for the first time ever, territorial report cards in Yukon and the Northwest Territories, highlighting that poverty is a national issue, impacting the lives of children and families from coast to coast to coast.
Select key Findings from the 2020 National Report Card, Beyond the Pandemic: Rising Up for a Canada Free of Poverty
- Nearly 1 in 5 children lived in poverty (1,337,570 or 18.2%) in Canada in 2018.
- The national child poverty rate declined by less than half a percentage point between 2017 to 2018, from 18.6% to 18.2%, representing 19,410 children fewer children in poverty.
- Poverty rates increased between 2017 to 2018 in several jurisdictions: Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Manitoba.
- The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) had a significant impact on child poverty rates the year it was implemented, but this lack of progress suggests that benefits were front-ended and short lived. In 2018, the CCB protected 662,080 from falling into poverty.
- 1.2 million children were food insecure in 2017-2018, representing the highest number recorded since food insecurity monitoring began in Canada. The CCB has been shown to reduce severe food insecurity in families.
- Well-designed government transfers can reduce poverty. In 2018, total government transfers reduced the child poverty rate from 33.1% to 18.2%, reflecting a difference of over one million fewer children living in poverty. But transfers alone are not enough.
- Canada must aim to reduce poverty by 50% according to the CFLIM-AT calculated by taxfiler data by the year 2025 and must ensure the same rate of reduction for marginalized communities where prevalence is higher.
- Pandemic recovery is dependent on the creation of a well-resourced, publicly funded universal childcare system, eliminating fee subsidy systems that create barriers to access for low-income families.
- Access to adequate housing is key to maintaining public health. Substantial new investments are needed that meet the needs of diverse communities, and that fulfill the federal governments human rights obligations and gender-based plus (GBA+) commitments of the National Housing Strategy.
- Now is the time to implement universal pharmacare with new legislation and an initial investment of a $3.5 billion annual pharmacare transfer to the provinces and territories with the condition of providing universal public coverage of essential medicines, with a shift to full pharmacare over 5 years.
- Economic fallout from the pandemic has affected already vulnerable workers and shone a light on abysmally poor labour standards. Canada must immediately implement $15/hr minimum wage; legislate paid sick days; lengthen the duration and improve access to emergency measures; strengthen the Employment Equity Act and attach Community Benefit Agreements; and reform Employment Insurance over the longer-term.
Click on the following links to read and download the new report cards as they become available.
- National Report Card: Beyond the Pandemic: Rising Up for a Canada Free of Poverty
- National Report Card in French (forthcoming mid-December 2020)
- National Campaign 2000 media release in English and French (forthcoming mid-December 2020).
Check out the provincial report cards on child poverty: