UNICEF Canada report shows income inequality contributes to child poverty

With a 13 per cent child poverty rate, Canada ranks higher than the average and places 24th of 35 industrialized countries.

Ottawa (30 May 2012) - UNICEF Canada released a new report measuring child poverty around the world and found some disturbing conditions right in our own backyard. According to Measuring Child Poverty, Canada's child poverty rate is higher than its overall national poverty rate, meaning children are suffering the most.

Canada ranked 18th out of 35 for countries with a higher child poverty rate than its overall rate and 24th in terms of the number of children actually growing up poor. UNICEF reported that Iceland has the lowest rate of child poverty just below five per cent while Romania has the highest.

The study clearly indicates that government policies play a role in contributing to the poverty levels.  "Countries with similar levels of economic development and per capita income have different child poverty rates. Canada's taxes and transfers are more successful at lowering child poverty rate compared to the United States but they are not as successful as the Nordic countries, Ireland or Australia."

The report suggests Canada can improve its standing by:

  • developing a national strategy to eliminate poverty, with a focus on children;
  • creating a National Commissioner for Children and Young Persons to protect the rights of vulnerable children;
  • improving child benefits; and
  • creating measures to enable low-income families to keep more income.

Canada does not even have an official definition of poverty making it difficult to monitor the situation and evaluate when strategies are effective.

"The Prime Minister should be ashamed. Government policies are having a disasterous affect on children," said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "It's his government's policies - from cuts to EI to massive government layoffs to refusing to develop a modern industrial job strategy - when you hurt the livelihoods of working people and those trying to make ends meet, you hurt children."

To pressure the government to take action on child poverty, UNICEF Canada is urging the public to write to their Member of Parliament and use social media to spread the word.

More information:

UNICEF Canada: Measuring Child Poverty, Report Card 10

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE