November 20, 2012
A new report on child and family poverty outlines the challenge Alberta faces if we are going to eliminate child poverty in five years and reduce poverty for everyone in ten years, as promised by Premier Redford during the recent provincial election.
The report, entitled "Achieving the Promise: Ending Poverty in Alberta", was published on National Child Day, November 20th by the Edmonton Social Planning Council, the Alberta College of Social Workers and Public Interest Alberta. This report is one of many reports being released across the country by the national coalition, Campaign 2000. Some of the main findings of the report include:
91,000 children under the age of 18 were living below the low-income measure (LIM after tax), 11.3% of all Alberta children.
The poverty rate was higher for children under the age of six with one in six children, (17.2% = 48,200 children) below the LIM.
The majority (52%) of children living in poverty had at least one parent working full time, full year.
There is growing inequality in Alberta with the wealthiest 10% of families seeing their incomes double in 20 years while the bottom 10% have seen only marginal increases.
The good news is that as that there was a 12% decrease in the number of children from the previous year and that the number of children lifted out of poverty by all government transfers has increased to 47.2%.
John Kolkman, Research Coordinator for the Edmonton Social Planning Council and lead author of the report says, ï¿½The latest data shows that while government transfers and a strengthening economy is helping to lift some children out of poverty, it is clear much more needs to be done to address the barriers that result in 91,000 Alberta children living in low income.ï¿½
"The Premier's promise to eliminate child poverty in five years is a bold commitment that will only be achieved if it is matched with an equally bold and comprehensive approach to address the root causes of poverty," says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. "Unfortunately, the provincial government seems to not want to invest any new funding to achieve this goal, so it will be up to citizens and civil society organizations to keep pressing for a real commitment to eliminate poverty in Alberta."
"Social workers see the suffering of children and families living in poverty every day. Alberta is a rich province with vast resources. We can end poverty in Alberta. Let's invest in our richest resource of all, our citizens," says Lori Sigurdson, Manager, Professional Affairs, Alberta College of Social Workers.
The report was launched at simultaneous forums in Edmonton and Calgary that were video linked together and live streamed over the internet. A number of people from various sectors of society presented their views on what solutions need to be included in the Social Policy Framework that Minister Hancock has just completed public consultations into. These forums were sponsored by the Alberta College of Social Workers, the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary, Public Interest Alberta, The United Way of the Alberta Capital Region and were also supported by many other civil society groups.
"This forum provides the opportunity for a broad discussion of the impacts of poverty and real solutions for ending poverty", said Jackie Sieppert, Dean of the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. "I hope the conversation started here creates momentum for educating people about the issue of poverty and concrete social policy changes to support poverty reduction. Both are essential to the people of Alberta."
The Child Well-Being Initiative of the Women of the United Church of Canada are holding a rally at the provincial legislature at 12:30 where they will have tens of thousands of paper dolls on display representing the number of children living in poverty. A Calgary member of the group, Carolyn Pogue said, "When we see that more than half the homeless who come to our church for a bed our children, we think this is an emergency. Charity is not enough. This is our third time back to the provincial legislature and we want action now."
Bill Moore-Kilgannon (780) 993-3736
Jackie Sieppert (403) 220-5945
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