Skip to main content

Canada Is Overdue on Promise to End Child Poverty

Anita Khanna

Twenty-five years have passed since Canada made a commitment to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000. The commitment was aimed at Canada’s children, but we all stood to benefit. On November 24, 1989 all parties in the House of Commons unanimously passed this all-important resolution. Today, Canada is 14 years overdue on this promise. Child and family poverty remains a severe problem with 1 in 5 children in Canada and 40% of Indigenous children living off-reserve living in poverty. Twenty-five years after the all-party resolution, more children live in poverty than did in 1989. Today, in Ontario, over 550,000 children live in poverty. As a result of persistent, structural inequities, poverty rates are even higher among children whose families are new immigrants, racialized, indigenous, led by female lone parents or are impacted by disabilities.

A generation has come of age since the all-party resolution to end child poverty was passed. A whole generation that was promised safety and relief from hunger, homelessness, worry, instability and exclusion has lived in the shadow of the promise. For these children, health, safety and access to opportunities have been just out of reach despite the fact that, collectively, government, researchers and activists now know more than ever before about poverty, income inequality and the various solutions available to resolve these plagues. We have examples from Norway and Denmark that demonstrate that poverty can be reduced through strategic investments. These countries invested in post-secondary education, affordable housing and childcare and now have child poverty levels below 7%. Canada’s rate is more than double that. As a national, public education movement, Campaign 2000 and our over 120 partners have been working since 1991 to bring attention to the pledge to end child and family poverty and to hold the government to account. Our annual report cards monitor progress, or the lack thereof, against child poverty in Canada and in many of the provinces, including Ontario. Ontario Campaign 2000 has over 70 partners who work with and advocate on behalf of children and families every day. We do this because we know that poverty is not inevitable and that we can fix this problem. We can resolve poverty and level the playing field for children in low income households through better support for early childhood education and care, adequately-funded public education, affordable housing, income supports and the creation of high-quality jobs that allow parents and caregivers to nurture and support children’s healthy development, skills and creativity. Resolving poverty can ensure that safety, stability, joy and opportunity are realities for all children in the province. We all benefit from reducing poverty, with less money spent on emergency services and enhanced community health and vitality. Educators know, first hand, how poverty and inequality impact children everyday. ETFO is one of Ontario Campaign 2000’s most active partners, bringing its frontline experience, progressive values and policy expertise to our public education and advocacy work on child and family poverty. Working together, we successfully advocated for Ontario’s 2008 Poverty Reduction Strategy focused on child poverty and, more recently, to bring national attention to the discussion on living wages for workers earning minimum wage. We continue to push for more progress against poverty and are relentless in our joint efforts for poverty eradication and greater opportunities for children. We are confident that we can eradicate child and family poverty in Canada in coalition with organizations, unions, parents and other individuals who are committed to equal opportunity for all children. United, our voices can foster the political will for action to end child and family poverty for good. Please get involved in Ontario Campaign 2000 – visit for our latest report card and to take action. Anita Khanna, Coordinator, Ontario Campaign 2000 @Campaign2000