There's a belief out there that "child poverty" in Canada doesn't mean the same thing as it does in Third World nations. True, we don't see children lying on the roadside, emaciated, as we have in the Horn of Africa in recent months, or living in garbage dumps like the most impoverished do in places like Mexico City or New Delhi.
But child poverty here at home has two profound things in common with child poverty everywhere else in the world: first, it utterly undermines the right of a child to live in safety, to access clean food and medical care, to grow and learn and maximize their potential; and second, it's ignored as well here at home as it is anywhere else.
It's a black mark on us as a nation that any child should be going to school on an empty stomach or sleeping in a rat-infested apartment in this country - or perhaps not have any place to call home at all.
According to a recent report (see our story on page 1), B.C. is leading the way in this gross neglect of children.
The report by First Call recommends reducing child poverty by improving employment insurance benefits, child care and access to post-secondary education and increasing the minimum wage, welfare and child tax benefits.
These are all good suggestions. But something else has to be changed before this problem will ever be solved: our mindsets. As a province and as a country, we have to assume responsibility for every child - and then make sure they all have what they need to grow up safely. We ignore these problems at our own peril - and that of future generations.
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