Halifax—This 25th anniversary of the House of Commons pledge to end child poverty is a shameful one in Nova Scotia, and indeed Canada. Not only have we broken the promise to end child poverty for the children who were living it in 1989, but a higher percentage of our children now live in poverty than was the case in 1989.
The 2014 Nova Scotia Child and Family Poverty Report Card published today, reveals that child poverty is 22.7% higher than it was in 1989. In 2012 (the most recent statistics available), there were 37, 900 children living in poverty in Nova Scotia. According to author, Lesley Frank, “Nova Scotia is not likely to see a reversal of the trend towards increasing child poverty rates unless both the federal and provincial governments make serious investments to do so.”
According to Stella Lord, Coordinator, Community Society to End Poverty-NS, “the piecemeal increases in social assistance spending and marginal tax adjustments were inadequate to reduce this trend. Our governments need to address the impacts of rising housing and food prices, increases in low-waged precarious employment, and inadequate rural transportation. Both federal and provincial governments must also increase investment to support parents to move into and stay in the workforce. We must provide better support for transition to employment programs and develop a universal child care system.”
As Sheri Lecker, Executive Director, Adsum for Women and Children, Halifax, says: “Sadly we are still waiting for systemic changes that would ensure that everyone has a safe secure home, adequate nutritious meals, and opportunities to learn, to play and to engage in meaningful employment. We know too many children who do not experience a real childhood. They have to grow up too fast, worrying about how not to burden their moms, how to hide their meagre meals in the school lunchroom, their worn clothes and the shame that often accompanies being poor. We can and we must do better.”
“This report card is one way to hold governments to account for the lack of progress,” says Christine Saulnier, Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-NS. “The 2009 Nova Scotia Poverty Reduction Strategy set a benchmark of 16,000 children under 18 representing 8.7% of the population by 2020. The rightful target should be the elimination of child poverty, but, reaching this target would at least ensure that some 20,000 children would no longer live in poverty in Nova Scotia. However, governments need to do much more to achieve that goal. Child poverty is public policy created and can be ended by public policy changes.”
Download the full report: A Generation of Broken Promises: The 2014 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia.
For interviews and more information, contact Christine Saulnier, Nova Scotia Director, CCPA, 902-240-0926, [email protected]
The CCPA-NS is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice, as well as environmental sustainability.