Food for thought on Family Day

With Family Day happening just a couple of days ago, here’s a timely op-ed piece in the Vancouver Sun about a call for action to reduce family poverty.

When MP James Moore asked a Vancouver reporter whether governments have an obligation to ensure kids don’t go to school hungry, his comments were rightly criticized by Canadians across the country as callous and cruel.

They were also incorrect; the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as international human rights treaties that Canada has committed to uphold, require governments to protect our rights to equality, life, and security of the person, and to do everything they can to ensure an adequate standard of living for all.

When Moore added that Canada has never been wealthier as a country than we are right now, he unintentionally underlined the vast inequality that exists in our society. Our governments have failed to ensure that our nation’s great wealth results in, at the very least, students arriving at school with nourishing food in their bellies, ready and able to learn.

On Family Day, it’s worth considering the way inequality plays out for B.C. families. B.C.’s abysmal child poverty rates — among the worst in the country for a decade — meaning one of every five children in B.C. lives in poverty. That’s 153,000 kids, enough to fill the stands at a Canucks’ game eight times over.

Certain families are hit especially hard. First Nations, immigrant, and non-white families, as well as families with children with disabilities, tend to be especially poor. Astoundingly, half of all children living in families headed by single mothers are poor, the highest rate for any family type in the province. Single mothers and their children live an average of $9,000 below the poverty line.

Read the full piece on the Vancouver Sun website.