“One in six kids in Alberta live in poverty today,” said Joel French, executive director of Public Interest Alberta, “That is 164,000 children. This is unconscionable in such a wealthy country and province. It’s time for our governments to take the problem seriously and commit to ending child poverty.”
French detailed the ramifications of child poverty and its effects on wider society, regardless of economic status.
“The research shows that when children grow up in poverty, it affects their mental health, educational attainment, employment, and housing throughout their lives, and they are more likely to remain in low-income status as adults,” said French. “Childhood poverty leads to less healthy adults with more serious health and social problems. This means greater stress on our health care and social support systems. Investing in prevention now means we avoid those downstream costs and we build healthier, more empathetic communities. These impacts benefit all of us.”
French stressed that there are proven policy solutions to child poverty and economic inequality, such as access to high-quality, universally-accessible, and affordable child care.
“Child care is one of the biggest household expenses, up to two-thirds of a low-income family’s monthly income,” said French. “Access to high-quality, universally-accessible, and affordable child care is a proven method for lowering child poverty and is an especially profound intervention for single mothers, who are among the most affected by poverty. Studies show that children in places with universal access to child care have better physical health, developmental, and psychological conditions by age six.”
“We can’t leave children trapped in life-long cycles of poverty,” stressed French. “We must act now. We have a moral obligation to end child poverty in our province. Even one kid living in poverty is one too many.”