KATHMANDU, July 28 (IPS) — Canada and its major cities are consistently ranked in the top 10 best places in the world to live. But delve into numbers about childhood lives in the northern country known for its ice hockey exploits and you’ll see a different picture.
For example, one in five children in the North American country of 38 million people live in poverty. That rises to one in two for First Nations children (First Nations people make up about half of Canada’s Indigenous population of 1.7 million).
Also, according to UNICEF, Canada ranks 30th out of 38 of the world’s richest countries in terms of the well-being of children and young people under the age of 18. “Canada’s government policies are not bold enough to turn our higher wealth into higher child welfare,” UNICEF suggests to explain the gap.
“Canada is not using its greater wealth for greater childhoods: Canada ranks 23rd in terms of a good childhood, but 30th in children’s outcomes,” adds the United Nations agency in its Worlds Apart report. 2019, the Canadian partner in a global survey of the world’s richest countries.
UNICEF suggests that rising inequality may be reflected in the low scores for child well-being. “Societies that are more equal generally report higher general well-being of children and fewer health and social problems, such as mental illness, bullying and teenage pregnancies,” says Worlds Apart.
Activist Leila Sarangi goes one step further to explain the inequality. “Canada is still a colonized nation and that’s a strategy to maintain structures and systems that sustain things like poverty,” said Sarangi, national director of Campaign2000, a nonpartisan coalition of 120 organizations.
She refers to a 2016 ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that found that the Canadian government had discriminated against First Nations children in providing child benefits. It ordered the government to pay $40,000 to each affected child. Earlier this month, the government approved a total of $20 billion in compensation for children and caregivers affected by that discrimination.
On June 23, 2002, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child wrote that it was “deeply concerned” about “discrimination against children in marginalized and disadvantaged situations in the State Party (Canada), such as the structural discrimination against children belonging to to indigenous groups and children of African descent, especially with regard to their access to education, health and a decent standard of living.”
In its concluding comments on reports submitted in May, the commission recommended Canada “end structural discrimination against children belonging to indigenous groups and children of African descent and address inequalities in access to services for all children.” to grab.”
Sarangi says Campaign2000 hoped the federal government budget would respond to the government’s post-Covid-19 “build back rhetoric” in April and help the poorest Canadians. “We really believe that big spending and big changes are possible and we saw that in the pandemic, the way the government acted very quickly to provide different types of support and services,” she added in a Zoom interview.
“Unfortunately, the budget fell outside the boat. There is a lot of talk about the deficit and trying to reduce the deficit. One of the things that was really missing from that budget – there was really nothing about income security.”
Instead, poor families have fallen into even deeper poverty, says Campaign2000’s report on child and family poverty for 2021, the first time this has happened since 2012. “When Canadian (monthly, tax-free) child support was introduced in 2016 and 2017 , you see the child poverty rate go down quite a bit – you see a real drop in that child poverty rate,” Sarangi says. “But in the last two years it’s been stagnant, and that’s because no new investments have been made in that benefit… it It’s frustrating because we know those kinds of transfers work.”
Nonprofit Canada Without Poverty (CWP) noted that its budget stated poverty 4 times, compared to 90 times for its counterpart in 2021. “It is a policy choice not to invest in social programs that serve marginalized communities and alleviate and reduce poverty.” National Coordinator Emilly Renaud said in an email interview. “It’s not about less money, it’s about a lack of political will to tackle poverty.
“The federal government has committed to a 50 percent poverty reduction by 2030, but there is no clear answer about what that 50 percent will look like and whether it looks fair,” she added.
CWP’s Just the Facts webpage has surprising stats such as:
- Between 1980 and 2005, the average income of the least affluent Canadians fell by 20%.
- People with disabilities (both mentally and physically) are twice as likely to live below the poverty line.
- Precarious employment has increased by nearly 50 percent over the past two decades.
The situation will not improve without structural change, says Campaign2000’s 2021 report card: “Dismantling systemic racism, especially anti-indigenous and anti-black racism, is needed to eradicate poverty and inequality. Policies aimed at tackling poverty rates in marginalized communities needs to be developed with the communities they target and incorporate trauma-informed principles into policy making.”
© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service