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Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Child Poverty - Canada's failing performance and some embarassing provincial feebleneess

It was dated November 10th, reported in the Edmonton Journal and then in only Alberta fashion, no record that the announcement of the poverty reduction strategy was proceeding.  I do have a copy of the media release, but it is not listed as a government endorsed media release to which I can provide a link.
Many provinces have moved forward on addresses health inequities by developing as a first step poverty reduction strategies.  Details on progress can be found at provincial poverty reduction activities.  Even the website alludes to the Alberta announcement – but it seems to have disappeared.  Let us only hope that the 8th province to move forward on formalizing a poverty reduction strategy, and historically the more right wing, is true to the leaked information.
While Saskatchewan and BC have undertaken activities to reduce poverty, neither has to my knowledge formally developed or committed to a poverty reduction strategy.  Given BCs notorious reputation for the highest child poverty rates in the country, one wonders where the rationale persists and where the efforts have been directed. Campaign 2000 monitors Canada’s commitment to end child poverty by the year 2000, clearly a goal that has been missed, but disappointing is the lack of progress over the nearly 2 decades since announced http://www.campaign2000.ca/

Globally Canada's track record is as an underperformer. Even the Conference Board of Canada just gives it a passing grade and ranks it 13th of 17th http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/Details/society/child-poverty.aspx.  More socially oriented groups might consider this is a generous ranking so it is perhaps the 'best' case assessment
Kudos likely go to Manitoba and Newfoundland, and an honourable mention to Ontario in their collective efforts to address child poverty.   Quebec’s stronger social programming needs commendation as well.  Federal leadership on the issues on income inequity deserves nothing above a failing grade and is highly unlikely under the current government. The right leaning governments of BC and Saskatchewan likely contribute to their blinded view of the health consequences caused by poverty. 
Hence Alberta’s announcement was a pleasant surprise and perhaps the tipping point for the left side of the country, that tends to lean more to the right. The mystery is what happened to the announcement, perhaps merely a short term oversight – or is it symptomatic of premiership that does not have the following of the party as is occurring in a few other provinces as well.
No matter the number of children living in poverty is unacceptable.  Confusion persists on measures like LICO before or after tax, market basket measure, Gini coefficient, Human Poverty index, Social deprivation index etc. Such confusion can be used as political fodder.   At the end of the day, let us remember, no child is merely a statistic, and none should be left wanting in any respect.  
As the Occupy movement is being slowly dismantled, let us continue to remember the fundamental message of their efforts – economic disparity is widening and social policy needs to be reinvented so that fewer of our brothers and sisters suffer. 

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