Child Poverty in Canada: Reasons and Consequences


Child poverty is considered to be one of the major issues while thinking about the future generations. Defining narrowly or making it simple children living under miserable circumstances or under deprived situations. The reason can be plenty for being children living under poverty. Although this is the truth in other way this is very bad for the state’s reputation. Canada being one of the richest nations in the world has got lots of children living under the poverty line. “One in nine Canadian children, more than a million, live below the poverty line according to the 2008 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada” (Jain, 2009, para.2). Canadian government tried to eliminate this child poverty by the year 2000, but nothing fresh has taken place in Canada and child poverty still remains alive in Canada for last nine years.

This paper is going to explore further minutiae regarding child poverty in Canada. The paper starts off with an explanation regarding poverty and children in Canada. Main cause that shows the conduit for poverty in Canada is also mentioned in this paper. The main causes illustrated in this paper for child poverty are Recession, chronic unemployment, family violence and illiteracy. Apart from this the consequences of child poverty and different approaches and programs to eliminate child poverty in Canada are also discussed in this paper.

The whole paper will revolve around the examination of different reasons for child poverty to become a social problem in Canada and different ways to eliminate or make it weaken in Canada.

Poverty and children in Canada

Poverty continues to be common among some sections of the society in Canada. Even though Canada is a developed country and has high living standards, poverty is a truth in Canada. Child poverty has become a very significant social problem in the country. There are millions of children in Canada who are facing the poverty problem. Children who are from poor families and those who are orphans are thought to live under poverty. Child poverty occurs when there is a deficiency of the fundamental requirements for the development of the children. During this condition there is a shortage of proper education, food and healthcare of the children. The child poverty is becoming increasingly worse each year. It seems that the government of Canada is uninterested to the misery of children. “A high child poverty in rich nations such as Canada is a serious issue; solid research exists that identifies the correlation between a lack of adequate income and its potential impact on families and children” (Westhues, 2003, p.29). The problem of child poverty is not a new thing in Canada. Recently the amount and intensity of poverty has become very extreme. The children who are below the poverty line have increased in number. Canada has become the second highest nation in child poverty rate. Because of the lack of food, many people in Canada are depending on food banks. Among them the majority is children.

The poor children are ill-treated and ignored by the society. It is obvious from this inference that the people of Canada do not have a feeling of sympathy for the poor children. They do not work for the development of the children deprived of poverty.

Causes for child poverty

In Canada the view of poverty is not a new issue but for the past few years poverty has become a social problem in this country. Today this country is leading the second highest position in the case of child poverty. There are many reasons for child poverty in this country such as recession, unemployment, family violence and illiteracy. One of the main reasons for the child poverty in this nation is recession during the year 1990s. The greater part of the children belongs to those families who are earning lower income. Therefore the parents are not in a condition to provide enough food to their children. As it is recession there no other option for getting better job and good salary for them. They has to satisfy with what they are getting, the family with many children the condition is much worse. With lower income the whole family cannot lead good life. The children are leading life without enough basic needs such as food, fresh water, clothing etc. Due to this reason there seems many children are suffering from various diseases due to insufficient food, nutritious and health care and so on. The condition of children who belongs to two parent wage earning family is not much worse. Nearly half percentage of the children is staying with two- parent family unit and their situation is much better than the children staying with single parent.

The other reasons for the child poverty is constant unemployment and government cost cutting. When the government is trying to reduce their expense through various methods, indirect boosting of child poverty occurs. The tax rate is higher in Canada while compared to United States therefore the major part their income goes under tax payment. Unemployment is the other issue which resulted in child poverty in this nation. The reason for their unemployment is that the people are not educated well and during the time of the education most of the youths are leaving the school without the essential talent and knowledge for their better career. Even though some of them are qualified they does not have enough work experience. The parents who are unemployed due to lack of source of earnings there are not able to provide the basic needs of their children. Other common problem resulted the child poverty is family violence moreover the condition of the children is very miserable when there is poverty and violence in a family. Around sixty percent of the people are living under the poverty line and these families are mostly headed by one parent, generally women. For the whole family members only one member is earning. Therefore the economic burden of the family has to bear mostly by the women and children. “Women are more likely to be working part-time than men are. In addition, women earn less than men, regardless of occupation (Jackson, 2005). Among women working in management, for example, women earn on average $956 a week compared to $1261 earned by men. Even in occupations dominated by women, such as clerical jobs, women earn less than men” (Raphael, 2007, p.77).

Especially for the separated family when there only one member earning it is difficult to share to two household. It might be sufficient for the whole family members if they are living together but when it has to divide among two families it won’t be enough. Due to the poor condition of the families there seems child poverty in great extend in Canada. Family violence defectively affects the health and emotions of the children. Domestic violence or family violence affects the behavior of children. The family violence increases emotional problems such depression and anxiety in children. Some Canadian parents are not ready to care their own children and they are not conscious about their children’s future. And they did not provide good quality food and shelter because they did not aware of their children.” Their parents are impoverished individuals who probably suffered the same sort of abuse and misery in their own lives; they are passing on the legacy of their own youth to their children” (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p.2). The parents stay or live in separate place. They were not ready to stay in one place. This very badly affect their children because the children do not get the love and care of their parents.

Illiteracy is another reason for the cause of child poverty in Canada. Illiteracy is the main cause of unemployment. The children cannot go to school because the poor parents cannot give educational facilities. Many Canadian children face the problem of illiteracy. Canadian poor children also drop out of their education without being completely literate. Literacy is the main factor of all children’s life progress but some Canadian children do not get proper education. The lack of education makes different problems in Canadian child’s life. The poor parents cannot provide money for the good education. Lack of literacy affects the progress of Canadian children. The illiterate Canadian children’s future is very sympathetic in that period because they do not get good job. So they have no money for food and cloth. The deficiency of education is very badly affected in the child’s life, because the illiteracy disturbs the fluency of life. The literate peoples are not ready to obey the illiterate people because the literate people have knowledge about all things. The rich parents think their child’s future and they give the good education facilities for their children. But poor parents cannot provide education to their children because economically they very weak. “Negative outcomes such as economic insecurity and poor literacy skills doubly jeopardize individuals’ life conditions, and render their choice-making more problematic. Moreover, both economic insecurity and marginal literacy skills can limit people’s opportunities to participate in democratic society, hindering social cohesion and exacerbating social exclusion” (Shalla & Schellenberg, 1998, p.11). The lack of literacy badly affect their employment opportunities and their economical status. The illiterate person has no value in the society.

The consequences

Many researches show that child poverty has severe bad consequences on the development of children. The children will have more health and development problems. Poverty has a negative effect on children’s health and development. “For example, poverty–net of a variety of potentially confounding factors—is associated with increased neonatal and post-neonatal mortality rates, greater risk of injuries resulting from accidents or physical abuse/neglect, higher risk for asthma, and lower developmental scores in a range of tests at multiple ages” (Li, 1997, p.463). The infant mortality rate is higher among the children suffering from poverty. The families having a low salary usually feed their children with low quality, nutrition less food. There can also be a problem of homelessness for the children living in poverty. Child poverty is a serious trouble for the economy of a nation. There will not be economic prosperity for the nation if the problem of poverty is not properly dealt. A child living in poverty is expected to get less education. The intensity of poverty reflects in the output of a child. The children whose parents have low wages have more developmental problems. The children who live in poverty usually feel isolation in the society. They are victims of the shame and disgrace related with poverty. It has been found that the other people condemned the poor children. The poor children who do not have enough food and money may start stealing for their living. This causes the children to become big criminals in the future. The problem of poverty reduces the opportunity of a child to have a successful future. It is thus a hindrance to the welfare of the future generations in Canada.

Policies and programs to eliminate child poverty in Canada

Poverty as become a reality in Canada and for many families it is very difficult to come out of it. Meeting the challenges that has been raised from the child poverty has become a prerequisite for all forms of Canadian society. In Canada different approaches and programs are implemented in hoping to avoid seeing the embarrassment of famished children living in streets of Canada. All sorts of Canadian programs are implemented with the help of having partnerships with non-profit organization, churches and different educational institutions. The Child Well-Being model is one of those models implemented in Canada to eliminate child poverty. This model aims to provide every child education, safety and health. Lack of all these will put children under the poverty line. The program mainly focuses on children living in low income family and female led families. The program provides food security or nutrition food to children. Similarly in the case of safety program, it provides housing for the children, family safety and emergency response in case of any calamities happen to those children. This program also aims to provide good education to the students.

Federal government of Canada also adopted certain rules and polices in aiming to remove child poverty in Canada. Many of their implemented programs are dealing with poverty and homelessness in order to lift poverty from Canada rather than make them living under poverty. In order to provide welfare for the children, the National child Benefit scheme for children has been raised to reach $5000 by the year 2012.

Another policy implemented in Canada is to eliminate poverty is national anti-poverty and income security policies in Canada. The main aim of these policies is to reduce the poverty levels and provide supports to low-income people present in Canada. This includes family and child benefits, minimum wage rules, and programs regarding social assistance and pensions for seniors.


This paper mainly reviewed child poverty in Canada. Paper for the most part examines different reasons that raise child poverty in Canada and also about different policies and programs that are implemented in Canada to eliminate or reduce child poverty. Grant Wilson, President of Canadian children’s right council once mentioned that even though it is very difficult to come out of child poverty completely, he suggested to Canadian people to show some anxiety in regarding child poverty by setting deadline and objective to put an end to child poverty present in Canada.


Duffy, A., & Momirov, J. (1997). Family violence: A Canadian introduction. James Lorimer & Company. Web.

Jain, V. (2009). Rich nation poor children. Toronto Star. Web.

Li, J. (1997). The effects of poverty on child health and development [Review of the Annual Review of Public Health] Annual Review, 18, 463-483. Web.

Raphael, D. (2007). Poverty and policy in Canada: Implication for health and quality of life. Canadian Scholars’ Press. Web.

Shalla, V., & Schellenberg, G. (1998). The value of words: Literacy and economic sequriy in Canada. Ministry of Industry. Web.

Westhues, A. (2003). Canadian social policy: Issue and perspectives, 3rd Ed. Wilfrid Laurier University press. Web.

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