Why We Care
"Children unite communities. It's that simple!"
The Rev. Canon John Bridges
St. Paul's Hazeldean-Kanata
You would be hard pressed to find someone in this country willing to admit that they don't care about the hundreds of thousands of children who continue to live in poverty in twenty-first century Canada. Ask any of our nation's politicians about child poverty, at the federal, provincial, or municipal level, and they will tell you that we're not doing enough to improve the lives of disadvantaged kids. Ask any dedicated community leader working in the field - be they a doctor, teacher, priest, or social worker - and they will tell you, despite all of our efforts, that we should be doing more.
Children do unite communities; it is that simple. In them we see our hopes, our dreams, and our aspirations as a society. Fundamentally, we see ourselves. Kids represent our future, and we all want that future to be bright.
And yet, despite the overwhelming sense of positive political will directed toward the wellbeing of children in our society, the number of children living in poverty in Canada has increased over the past twenty years. According to Campaign 2000, a well-respected, non-partisan research group, the number of Canadian children living in poverty in 2010 stood at 14.5%, or 979,000 kids, compared to 13.7% or 912,000 kids in 1989, the year when Parliament passed an all party motion to eliminate child poverty in Canada by the year 2000.
Now, in the wake of the "great recession" of 2008, more children who live in working and middle class families are making due with less as their caregivers continue to struggle with difficult economic times. Although there are some who argue that the increase in the number of children living in poverty was unavoidable given high levels of global economic uncertainty, the fact remains that in 2007 approximately 14% of all Canadian children were living in poverty at a time when our nation's economy was in a better position than any other nation's in the world.
As a country, we can do better.
As followers of Christ, we must, at the very least, try.