Everyone is gearing up for the Christmas season, that wonderful time of year focused on giving. There are food drives collecting for the food bank, and campaigns of all kinds to help those in need, including toy drives trying to ensure all children have something waiting for them under the Christmas tree.
This is a great thing, and it is good-hearted people that both organize and contribute to them. But the best they can hope for, and it is a good goal, is to alleviate some of the need.
The sad fact is, the issue of child poverty is not going to be solved by a once-a-year campaign.
According to the annual report released by First Call, a coalition of advocacy groups, child poverty is on the rise in BC rather than declining. The B.C. Child Poverty Report Card says 153,000 children were living below the poverty line in this province in 2012.
Last year, the report said 169,240 children.
First Call set out 19 recommendations in their report with a goal of reducing the provincial child poverty rate to seven per cent by 2020.
The recommendations cover a range, from raising the minimum wage to increased child tax benefits and rescinding cuts to Employment Insurance. But what they all have in common is the need for provincial and federal governments to address the problem.
Back in 1989 – yes, 25 years ago – all political parties in the House of Commons collectively vowed to end child poverty in a decade.
We’re still waiting. And, obviously, it’s not an easy solution to come by, but when we see the enormity of the problem of child poverty, it is clear it is time for upper levels of government to join in the fight to make some long-term change.
We can’t wait another 25 years.