Child and Family Well-Being

Of all of Canada's social problems, child poverty is probably the most shameful and humiliating. In 1989, the old-line political parties voted unanimously to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000. Since then, the rate has remained unchanged at around 15 per cent, or 1 million children. As a result of short-sighted cuts to our social programs that stripped away basic income support for families, child poverty has been a Canadian reality for far too long. Canada now ranks a dismal 26th out of 29 'developed' countries in terms of child poverty rates. There's no single silver bullet to eradicate poverty. Simply stocking food banks cannot bridge growing disparities between wealthy and poor Canadians. Poverty is a systemic problem that reflects low minimum wages, a precarious job market, lack of commitment to social housing, changes to Employment Insurance benefits and cuts in social programs. Poverty rates are even higher among new Canadians, Aboriginals and single mothers. We can eliminate child poverty by making a commitment to have a just society that is built on a progressive and fair social safety network. European countries, such as Denmark, Finland and Norway, who have made a similar commitment, have kept child poverty rates below 3.5 per cent. Unlike the old-line parties, the Green Party believes reducing child poverty is more important than hoarding wealth. The Green Party believes reducing child poverty starts with a stronger commitment to guaranteeing every family has an equal opportunity to provide for their children. Green Party MPs will work to:
  • Create a "Comprehensive Anti-Poverty Strategy for Canada," which will:
    • Toughen regulations to ensure fair treatment and better wage standards for all working Canadians.
    • Raise benefit levels and increase eligibility under the Employment Insurance Act.
    • Remove GST on education supplies and specific family products.
    • Expand child tax credits and benefits.
  • Support provinces that adopt a basic income strategy to ensure the benefits of a living wage are available to every citizen through existing federal programs.
  • Enforce measures to ensure that corporate pension plans are adequately funded.
  • Take adequate measures to ensure seniors are aware of available federal income supplements.
  • Create tax incentives for businesses to implement flexible schedules and on-site childcare.
  • Implement a managed reduction in the standard workweek to thirty-five work hours per week.
  • Establish a Canadian mentorship network that will enable seniors to connect with youth, to share the benefit of their experiences and to pass on their skills.
  • Support a nation-wide healthy lunch and snacks program from Kindergarten through to Grade 12.
  • Boost funding for early childhood education and work with other governments to link local childcare and education centres into a national network.
  • Support child-focused programs that boost self-confidence and foster a love of learning.
  • Implement affordable housing programs.
  • Combat racism in hiring practices and give greater recognition to foreign qualifications.