A major indicator for child poverty is the number of charts made to describe it. Twenty-five years ago then NDP leader Ed Broadbent introduced a motion in Canada’s parliament to end child poverty. It passed unanimously. Right now, child poverty is up in Canada. Where did we go wrong? The economy is bigger than ever though we’ve had a stupid war or two and lots of neoconservatism since 1989. Here’s four more charts for us to ponder.
Child poverty is up in Canada even after vowing in 1989 to end it
Mr. Broadbent in 1989:
This cold week of Remembrance Day 2014 included the voice of Harry Leslie Smith, 91. Smith experienced the Great Depression and World War II, firstly as a child, then as a working person and soldier. The difficulties and losses of those years are attached, in a book Smith has written, to the progress made after 1945. Harry’s Last Stand describes its author’s fear that the erosion of the security and quality of life for middle and working class people is disastrous in ways all too familiar to his generation. Young people coming of age in an era of austerity and inequality face diminished prospects according to Smith. His words are delivered gently but carry very serious things.
Why this 91-year old veteran fears we’re losing what we won after WWII
And the very same week, what appears other than a brutal report on child poverty in Toronto? This is why social safety nets were invented and need to be fought for. This is exactly what Smith is talking about.
Hidden epidemic: a report on child and family poverty in Toronto
A report released this week had us cringing. Why? Because across Toronto about thirty to forty percent of children live in poverty.
American public policy group Demos suggests a mechanism to chop child poverty in half. You replace child-related tax benefits with a direct monthly benefit. In a world blurry behind stale right wing fog Demos is a refreshing breeze.
This one weird trick actually cuts child poverty in half demos.org
Caledon Institute of Social Policy takes a look at Ontario’s poverty reduction strategy and records a definite upside. In 2009, all the political parties supported the Poverty Reduction Act.
Glass is more full than empty 3-page .pdf file
What does genetic damage to a human being? Radiation? Yes, and we’ve known that for a while. Pollution? Yes, pretty much proven. Poverty? Yes as well.
An American research effort called the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study has published results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week that indicate higher stress environments weaken a protective DNA element called a telomere. This element prevents the end of each human chromosome from fraying over time. Stress, like that induced by poverty in childhood reduces the intergrity of our chromosomes and leaves us open to mental and physical ill health later in life.
Stress alters children’s genomes. Poverty and unstable family environments shorten chromosome-protecting telomeres in nine-year-olds
See also: (372) Studies indicate poverty impairs cognitive ability
One of Canada’s longest serving neocons resigned his post as federal Minister of Finance today. Jim Flaherty provided the requisite appearance of boardroom steadiness while in the job but child poverty remained stubbornly high during his team’s times. Child poverty here is about thirteen percent – the same as it was in 1989, which is pretty much a lifetime ago and happens to be the year in which Parliament promised to eradicate the scourge of child poverty by 2000. Not really getting a lot of attention in the farewell coverage.
Child poverty in Canada & Ontario since 1989
image: a great, big lemon by Cassandro via Wikimedia Commons
A five-part, in depth look at children, poverty and mental health in Hamilton, Ontario is underway at cbc.ca. If the first segment is anything to go by this will be an impressive piece of feature journalism on a very important topic. Even moderate exposure to poverty has implications for community mental health because of its effect on childhood development. Hamilton’s children will be the first generation to grow up there as citizens of a fully post industrial community. Where those children go so goes Hamilton. A picture of the conditions and issues faced by Hamilton’s children is assembled by Denise Davey based upon key statistics and time spent with families. Some of the best cared for of children are found in Hamilton but even newer neighbourhoods “up the mountain” as Hamiltonians say, are home to children in problematic situations.
Kids, poverty and mental health: Hamilton fights back
Here’s two notable lines from End Child Poverty’s detailed report on the state of that phenomenon in the United Kingdom:
“Between 1998 and 2010, the number of children in poverty was reduced by 900,000.”
“…more children are living in families where nobody works.”
So the issue seems to be how to secure and build upon improvements made until the Great Recession arrived and the coalition government took over and began to implement major changes to social services. The detail in this report, utilizing data as recent as 2011 is impressive, daunting even. The further point is that other EU nations at similar levels of wealth and facing similar, or heavier, challenges as the UK suffer less child poverty.
Ending Child Poverty: Child Poverty Map of the UK 44-page .pdf file
image: Parliamentary Recruiting Committee via Wikimedia Commons
Some data for poverty in the Greater Toronto Area, …a place now largely dominated by suburban approaches to life.
Poverty pockets growing in suburbs Toronto Star
image: Danielle Scott via Wikimedia Commons