The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), through its Hear My Voice campaign, is aiming to raise the profile of public education as a national issue and increase political awareness of its proposals for better student access to mental health resources and for a national anti-poverty strategy aimed to alleviate child poverty.
In an effort to better inform teachers across Canada, the Federation invited all the major parties to respond to a series of questions related to these two issues. Their responses are published in full online in the CTF questionnaire Our Questions. Their Replies. on the Hear My Voice campaign site (http://vox.ctf-fce.ca/?page_id=12878).
Below are the parties’ responses when asked to outline their views on child poverty.
What does your party propose as a poverty elimination strategy for Canada, with specific reference to increases to minimum wage, a mixture of employment plus income support strategies, sustainable employment and universal access to early childhood education and care?
The Conservative Party has not yet replied to the questionnaire.
(Note: This material has been condensed from the original submission)
In 1989, the House of Commons unanimously passed a pledge to end child poverty in Canada by 2000. Now, in 2015, we have little to show for it but a series of disconnected programs that have failed our children. That one in seven children—in one of the wealthiest countries in the world—lives in poverty is a scandal. The numbers are even more shocking when looking at status First Nations children (one in two), racialized children (one in five) and first generation immigrants (one in three). Our governments have done little but hide from this embarrassment and wish the poverty away. Teachers, unlike politicians, see child poverty every day in the classroom.
The Green Party firmly believes that Canada can eliminate child poverty. Eliminating child poverty is a top priority for Green MPs. This will not be simple. Measures like raising the minimum wage to a living wage will be part of the plan. But we need something more ambitious. Since child poverty is not an isolated phenomenon, the first step will be to recommit ourselves to a vision of Canada as a just society, built around a fair, progressive and robust social safety net.
Green MPs have advocated for a comprehensive program to combat the roots of child poverty: a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI). A GLI is an empowering and effective—not to mention just—way to eliminate poverty in Canada.
A GLI would function as a negative income tax; those whose incomes do not meet the minimum amount required to live a healthy and dignified life would receive an income top-up automatically. This would guarantee every Canadian family enough money to meet their basic needs, without trapping anyone behind the welfare wall. It will guarantee that no parent needs to make the decision to "heat or eat."
Canadians deserve to live in a country where everyone has a real and fair chance at success. That means ensuring that our children have the tools and support they need to grow and thrive.
Liberals were the first federal government to create a national child-care program because we believe that access to quality early learning and child care improves long-term outcomes for children, reduces poverty and allows parents to concentrate on improving their family’s quality of life. We remain deeply committed to working with the provinces, territories and stakeholders to ensure that all Canadians are able to access affordable, high-quality child care in every region of the country, as well as on other issues such as flexible work arrangements for families.
But we know that child care is only a part of the solution. Reducing child poverty will also require, among other things, a substantial and sustained commitment to affordable housing. Liberals will help ease Canadian families’ cost of living by making the investments needed to guarantee that housing is available and accessible to all those that need it.
In 1989, MPs unanimously adopted an NDP motion to end child poverty in Canada. A quarter century later, more than a million Canadian children live in poverty. It’s time to put the focus back where it belongs—with action to ensure that children get the best possible start in life.
NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan recently introduced motion M-534 asking for the federal government to work with the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to develop a national poverty reduction plan that includes making housing more affordable for lower-income Canadians, ensuring accessible and affordable child care, addressing childhood nutrition, improving the economic security of families and measures that specifically address the unique needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair has also announced key policies that would help reduce poverty in Canada including a $15 federal minimum wage, a national child-care plan where parents pay a maximum of $15 a day and a plan to kick-start manufacturing and small business job creation. We will continue working to build a Canada where no child is left behind.