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SENATORS’ STATEMENTS — Campaign 2000's 2022 Report Card

Honourable senators, I rise to mark the release of the annual report by Campaign 2000 on the state of child poverty here in Canada. I want to thank and congratulate Leila Sarangi and her team, along with their many partners and stakeholders across this country, for this important work.

This year’s report focused on the impacts of income supports that were made available during the pandemic. Based on 2020 data, Campaign 2000 found that while more than 300,000 children were lifted out of poverty, one in eight still experience the short- and long-term impacts of poverty on every facet of their lives.

This means, colleagues, that at least one million children live in poverty.

Campaign 2000’s data indicates that without pandemic benefits, another half a million children would be in poverty.

Another key finding is that the Canada Child Benefit is losing its impact, and its effect on poverty reduction is increasingly minimal. Simply tying it to inflation is not enough.

I want to highlight for you, colleagues, that these findings should be contextualized in today’s setting. Rising inflation means that low-income families are struggling even more. It means that families living in poverty, many of them Black and Indigenous, need more support from government, not less. It means there is still a lot of work to be done.

Why does this matter? A democracy is only as strong as the belief citizens have in its ability to meet their needs. Having children and families struggle to make ends meet is not only a failure to meet our human rights obligations; it speaks to a need for deep change in our systems to ensure its survival. In an era where democracies are threatened, this issue cannot be ignored.

So what should we be doing, colleagues? I will highlight what Campaign 2000 proposes, namely, the advancement of a national strategy for children and youth, so that we can have a vision of the country we want for our children. They also support a deep poverty supplement to the Canada Child Benefit, which I support wholeheartedly.

Ultimately, we must recognize that child poverty is a policy choice. It is not inevitable. And we can make a choice to end it, once and for all. Thank you.

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