The Conference Board recently took the nation's pulse and discovered that child poverty is on the rise in Canada. Diane Swinemar, the executive director of Feed Nova Scotia, writes:
Most know the House of Commons passed a unanimous vote in 1989 to end child poverty by the year 2000. Not so long ago, we acknowledged the 20-year anniversary of that failed promise. Now, four years later, our country still doesn’t seem to care about our children. And more than one in every seven are growing up in poverty.
Despite rare legislative unanimity, child poverty did not become a priority. In fact, the problem became worse. Swinemar writes:
In 1989, there was a glimmer of hope for the six-year-old girl growing up with this huge disadvantage. But time passed, little headway was made with child poverty rates, and that six-year-old girl is now 30 — and you have to wonder how her life has turned out. She might be an anomaly. She might have beaten the insurmountable odds poverty undoubtedly stacked against her, but the statistics certainly weren’t in her favour.
She probably grew up in an unsafe neighbourhood with higher than average crime rates. Her parents likely struggled to provide adequate nutritious meals, in turn making it difficult for her to focus at school. This likely caused her academic performance to suffer. Maybe she managed to scrape by and graduate from high school, but college or university was out of the question. Maybe she was fortunate enough to find work, but two minimum-wage jobs probably didn’t cover the bills and she likely ended up at the doors of a local food bank looking for help (and thank goodness she at least had that option). There is a good chance she now has children of her own. And if that’s the case, she is probably devastated that, like her own parents, she can’t give them everything they need. And the cycle continues.
Any society which does not invest in its children is doomed. As its adults admire their reflections in their mirrors, it slowly strangles itself. Psychologists call it narcissism. Historians call it stupidity.