(CTF News Service – Ottawa) Teacher leaders from across the country are adding their voices to the national call for action to end child poverty when they meet with Parliamentarians today as part of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation’s (CTF) annual Hill Day.
“Our task is to remind federal politicians that social issues are just as important as economic ones,” explains CTF President Mary-Lou Donnelly. “It is shameful that child poverty is a tragic fact of life in a nation as wealthy as ours. Among the most vulnerable groups affected by child poverty are Aboriginal children, children of new immigrants and children with disabilities.
“Teachers see the effects of poverty get played out in schools and classrooms in many ways. Low-income children experience reduced motivation to learn, delayed cognitive development, lower achievements, 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.
“Despite the unanimous pledge made in 1989 by the House of Commons to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000, the after-tax child poverty rate has remained close to 11.7 per cent. Food Banks Canada reports that of the 794,738 people who were assisted by a food bank in March 2009, 294,053 were children. This represents an increase of 18 per cent over March 2008. In addition, nearly 60 per cent of Canadian teachers who responded to a CTF poll have said their schools have free breakfast and lunch programs which are being accessed by nearly 30 per cent of their students.
“The evidence is clear and the data is out. Let’s move from words to action,” urges Donnelly. “Although governments have taken positive steps in the right direction to address poverty, more needs to be accomplished. All levels of government need to meet to develop a coordinated poverty reduction strategy,” concludes the CTF President.
Child poverty continues to be a priority issue for CTF which is an active member of the National Alliance for Children and Youth, Campaign 2000, Canada Without Poverty and the Dignity for All campaign. Read the Federation’s position and recommendations, as well as its “Child Poverty Progress Report Card for Canada” which are posted on the CTF Web site.
Founded in 1920, CTF is a national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations that represent nearly 200,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada. CTF is also a member of the international body of teachers, Education International.
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Contact: Francine Filion, Director of Communications, cell: 613-899-4247