Recent report sheds light on child poverty
A recent report is shedding light on high rates of child poverty across the country.
The report by Campaign 2000 is looking at child poverty rates by federal riding. The report found Canada’s single parent families, Indigenous peoples and immigrants make up the majority of the population who are living below the poverty line.
Amanda Hopkinson is a single mother raising her five children in north Regina.
She receives close to $2,800 a month through the federal government’s Canada Child Benefit including disability benefits for two of her children.
However last April, the Canadian Revenue Agency requested a validation review where she was told to provide all of the necessary documentation including health cards and letters from the Ministry of Social Services. Since then, she has been without her benefits to provide for her children.
“I send them off everything that I have received from schools. They’re now asking for more information on my children,” said Hopkinson.
Two months have passed and Hopkinson says her kids have been going to school hungry. She says the school her kids attend have been helping the kids and providing them lunches. Family members have also been helping her financially. Social services have also been providing $85 for food but the food runs out within two days.
“I’m trying to keep my kids fed after school, cover my rent. I’m scared of losing my home and my vehicle,” Hopkinson added, holding back tears.
Hopkinson’s story is just one of many across the country.
In the federal riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River in Saskatchewan’s north, 57.8 per cent of children are living below the poverty line — this is the second-highest child poverty rate in the country.
“The Sask. Party government has known about this for a long period of time,” said NDP MLA Trent Wotherspoon. “Children in Saskatchewan are growing up in poverty and Saskatchewan people are facing poverty at levels that is unacceptable and totally damaging. Children across this province cannot wait any longer.”
“We know there is more work to be done on reducing child poverty here in Saskatchewan and are working to reduce it,” said the Ministry of Social Services in a written statement.
“We have provided input to the federal government on their poverty reduction and housing strategies and look forward to seeing how this will work to benefit Saskatchewan. The government has made significant investments in social program including this year’s Social Services budget which is now at a record $1.8 billion, which is a 90 percent increase since 2007. We have also increased shelter benefits nine times over the past decade and invested millions of dollars into child and family programs.”
In a written statement, the Canadian Revenue Agency says they are committed to ensuring that Canadians get the benefits and credits they are entitled to. They cannot speak to Hopkinson’s specific case but add,
“To maintain public confidence in the fairness and integrity of its benefit and credit programs and to make sure amounts are calculated and paid correctly, validation reviews are conducted after benefits or credits have started to be paid. When an account is reviewed, the CRA first tries to confirm the individual’s eligibility based on the information already on file.”
Hopkinson says she is continuing to work with federal government in sending all of her documentation.
“We shouldn’t be living like this when it comes to our children,” said Hopkinson.