Friday, September 18, 2009

Canada, child poverty, and education

An article in the Citizen today highlights a study showing Canada's worsening rate of child poverty. In terms of child poverty, children under 17 living in households with less than half the median income, Canada was 15th out of 17 countries, beating only the United States and Japan.

This matters to teachers, schools and the education system because poverty makes it harder for kids to do well in school. In the article, Brenda Lafleur, the lead author of the study says "So there are children who don't have enough food, shelter ... but then (the data) looks at how much it costs to go to school," she said. "What does it mean for a kid who can't go on a field trip or join a book exchange or have runners to take gym? All these add up."

The quality of the education that we give our children will be critical to the future economic development of our country and so all levels of government should be working hard on trying to reduce child poverty. But, our federal government is spending its resources on security (not poverty reduction) in the North, home renovation tax credits, and belittling the opposition. Our provincial government, while rightly banning the use of handheld communication devices in cars, is spending its time talking about banning the use of handheld devices while walking and dealing with financial scandals in government-run health and lottery programs. Meanwhile, the local school board is cutting budgets in schools because they are not getting enough money from the province to do everything that needs to be done.

When the next federal and provincial elections come around, I will be asking the candidates in my riding what their party is going to do about child poverty.

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