Insights (Essays)

Insights (Essays) November 2010

Poverty and Child Health: Piecing together Mr. Harper’s commitment and reality

One year ago November 23, 2009, Ed Broadbent wrote a column in the Globe and Mail. He asks . . .Why is it that Finland, Sweden and Denmark have almost wiped out child poverty, and we have not? Why do more than 600,000 Canadian kids wake up hungry and go to school trying to read, write and think on an empty stomach?

You can read Mr. Broadbent’s article here.

Two months later, on January  28, 2010 in Davos, Switzerland: Prime Minister Harper gave an important speech which included: “. . . as president of the G-8, Canada will champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world’s most vulnerable regions. There are indications that other members of the G-8 share our concern and would be receptive to such a proposal. It is therefore time to mobilize our friends and partners to do something for those who can do little for themselves, to replace grand good intentions with substantive acts of human good will.

The substance of what we talk about here translates into simple realities like a home, food on the table, or a better life for their children.  The full speech is available here. Download the pdf file [pdf 66kb]

One month ago in the October 2010 special issue of the journal Healthcare Quarterly Ted McNeill from the Hospital for Sick Children wrote about the Family as a Social Determinant of Health: Implications for Governments and Institutions to Promote the Health and Well-Being of Families and called for the targeting of poverty's "toxic effect" on health and the widening gap between the rich and poor in Canada --  an essential for both health and economic reasons.

McNeill is director of social work and child life at The Hospital for Sick Children. He contributes to this discussion with a call to hospitals and governments to create and implement policies and practices that directly address the "social injustice of health inequalities."

And now two days ago on November 21, 2010, we read in the Toronto Star: The Conservative MPs also pat the government on the back for existing anti-poverty programs. But a Senate subcommittee — with Conservative Hugh Segal as its vice-chair — recently concluded that many of our existing programs are so badly designed that they actually hold people down. . . . .In 1989, parliamentarians voted unanimously to eliminate child poverty, but they didn’t follow it up with a specific plan. They still haven’t. Until they do, as this report urges, there is no hope we will ever achieve that goal.

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