Priorities

  • To be a visible national voice for teachers
  • To act as a strong advocate for public education
  • To bring public attention to the need for all members of school communities to work, learn and live in a safe and healthy environment
  • To focus public and professional attention on necessary conditions for teaching and learning
  • To advocate for social justice issues

Child Poverty

Child poverty is a tragic and shameful fact of life in a nation as wealthy as Canada. The child poverty rate remains at 1989 levels, the year of the all-party House of Commons resolution to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000. Statistics Canada data shows the after-tax child poverty rate is 11.7%, exactly where it was in 1989 when all federal parties decided action was urgently needed.

CTF’s research has shown that many low-income children experience reduced motivation to learn, delayed cognitive development, lower achievement, less participation in extra-curricular activities, lower career aspirations, interrupted school attendance, lower university attendance, an increased risk of illiteracy, and higher drop-out rates.

The strong correlation between socio-economic status and children’s academic performance is well established. The inequities that exist between affluent and poor families with respect to education were the subject of a Statistics Canada study published in November 2006. In analyzing five-year-old children’s readiness to learn on the basis of gender, level of household income, and a child’s home environment, it concluded that children from lower income families were less ready to learn than children from more affluent households.

The study found important links between readiness to learn and what goes on in a child’s home environment. Specifically, it found that children with high levels of positive parental interaction, children who were read to daily, and a child’s participation in organized sports and general physical activity were all associated with higher scores on various measures of readiness to learn.

Government programs such as the GST credit, the Canada Child Tax Benefit, and Employment Insurance make a significant difference in reducing Canada’s poverty rate for low income families with children – in 2005 the child poverty rate would have been a third higher without such public investments. CTF is an active member of various coalitions and networks working to enhance the well-being of Canadian children and youth, including the National Alliance for Children and Youth, Canada Without Poverty and Campaign 2000 . Among CTF’s priorities is to support teachers and teachers’ organizations as strong advocates for social justice, with a particular focus on issues related to child poverty.

On November 24th, 2009, the House of Commons passed the following motion: “That with November 24th, 2009 marking the 20th anniversary of the 1989 unanimous resolution of this House to eliminate poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000, and not having achieved that goal, be it resolved that the Government of Canada, taking into consideration the Committee’s work in this regard, and respecting provincial and territorial jurisdiction, develop an immediate plan to eliminate poverty in Canada for all.”

Recommendations:

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation Urges all Parliamentarians to support a coordinated effort to reduce and eliminate child poverty in Canada.

This coordinated effort should be focussed along three main areas of action:

  • Family Income

  • Housing

  • Educational Opportunity

Strategies and policy recommendations that could have a positive impact on inequitable educational opportunities linked to family socio-economic status and ensure that all children are better provided for, should include but not be limited to:

  • Increased minimum wage;

  • Expansion of eligibility for Employment Insurance;

  • Major investment in social housing;

  • Improved accessibility and affordability of post-secondary education and training;

  • Inclusion of child and youth services as part of federal/provincial/territorial agreements concerning immigrants and refugees;

  • Funding for First Nation’s child welfare agencies to deliver in-home support and prevention services to First Nation children and their families;

  • A universal child care system providing dedicated funding for high quality care and early intervention and school-readiness initiatives for all children.

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