With Christmas only two weeks away, the signs of the holiday season abound.
And along with the sights of glistening lights and shoppers bustling about, there are food drives collecting for the food bank, and campaigns of all kinds to help those in need, including toy drives trying to ensure all children have something waiting for them under the Christmas tree.
Those are all worthwhile causes and the people who organize and contribute to them should be celebrated. But the most they can do is alleviate some of the need. The sad fact is, the issue of child poverty is not going to be solved by a once-a-year campaign.
According to the annual report released by First Call, a coalition of advocacy groups, child poverty is on the rise in B.C. rather than declining. According to the B.C. Child Poverty Report Card, 169,240 children were living below the poverty line in this province in 2012. Last year, the report identified 153,000 children.
Victoria’s Community Social Planning Council estimates 6,540 children in Greater Victoria live in two-parent, two-child families with incomes less than the living wage, calculated at $18.93 an hour in Victoria.
First Call set out 19 recommendations in their report with a goal of reducing the provincial child poverty rate to seven per cent by 2020.
The recommendations cover a range, from raising the minimum wage to increased child tax benefits and rescinding cuts to Employment Insurance. But what they all have in common is the need for provincial and federal governments to address the problem.
Christmas is a time of giving and a time to share in the joy of children.
With that in mind,there is no better time for senior levels of government to join in the fight to make some long-term change. Christmas shouldn’t be the only time we work to put smiles on the faces of children.