The Negative Impact of Poverty on a Child's Physical and Mental Development

On several occasions, federal politicians have vowed to end child poverty through several policy changes and amendments. Unfortunately, the child poverty rate has risen since 1989 according to Campaign 2000. Child poverty has several detrimental effects on the individual facing it. Not only does it color a person’s childhood and adolescence it leads them to have a higher probability of being poor for their entire lives. Both reports examined the prevalence of child poverty in Canada.

Each report measured the rate of child poverty in Canada. As well as comparing the depth of child poverty found in Canada to several OECD member countries. Through several charts, the OECD report points out the differences in poverty rates in terms of specific groups and family constellations in Canada and elsewhere. Overall both reports suggest ways to curb child poverty. In addition to the reports, the readings also make a strong commentary on the social determinants of the health of income, housing, and employment. The paper will take a close look at both the report and readings through the context of the points mentioned above.

As stated in the Campaign 2000 report statistics Canada provides several measures of low income such as the before and after-tax incomes of families. The report decided to use the low-income measure of after-tax to calculate child poverty in Canada. According to the report, the method is internationally comparable as it can track progress or lack thereof against poverty. Currently is $1,676 a month. (CTV News). The low-income cut-offs estimate low-income cut-offs, which are established by statistics Canada.

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A family that would be considered below the minimum will likely spend a larger percentage of its income on thebasic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing in comparison to an average middle-class family.

With this definition, it is nearly impossible for a low-income family to afford extracurricular activities such as before and after school programs. The overall average a family needs to in Toronto to be classified, as a low-income family is $21,000 per year. Statics Canada is said to apply a comparative method to poverty as it calculates only one-half of the median gross income.

The income is also adjusted to fit the family size and makeup. Unfortunately, the method reduces the poverty rates by 2-3% contributing to the lack of uniformity. The report also suggests using Canada’s long-form census to track and understand the concentration of poverty amongst racialized, indigenous, and immigrant people. As pointed out in chapter 3, income and wealth inequality indicators also provide a context for understanding the incidence and meaning of poverty. The OECD report took a slightly different approach to measure child poverty. It focused on the proportion of children 0-17 years of age living in a household with an equalized post-tax and transfer of50 %. It focused on poverty rates among children and classified them through the type of household and employment of family members. According to the report the equalized household income is used to measure child poverty rates because it is assumed that all members of a given household share earned income.

The OECD report suggests that Canada has fallen behind in the reduction of child poverty compared to several of the OECD member countries. The report makes the distinction that Canada’s tax benefit system does not reduce inequality and poverty as well as their fellow member countries. The report indicates that tax benefits and transfers reduce market income inequality by only 22 % as compared to the 27 % average found in the OECD countries. The commentary provided within the report urges the new federal government to increase investments in government transfers in the hopes of reducing child and overall poverty. A large section of chapter 3, focused primarily on social assistance programs in Canada and the lack of support they provided to citizens and families. The chapter states that unemployment insurance, welfare, and pensions have declined drastically over the last decade or so. Ironically, social assistance benefits provided by the provinces fall well below the poverty line. Incidentally, the report states that social transfers only assist 13 % of jobless Canadian families out of poverty unlike the 50%average across the OECD countries. The statistics provided in the report and readings point to a clear problem with the distribution and access to social assistance programs for Canadians. If the federal government were to raise the minimum wage and welfare and reduce the barriers for Canadians to receive social assistance the population would see a decrease in child poverty. Poverty affects marginalized groups in Canada. Chapter three breaks up the different rates of poverty for ethnic groups in Canada. It states that  40% of African racial groups, 30 % of Arab and East Asian 20 % of aboriginal, south Asia,n and The Caribbean live below the poverty line. It is true poverty does affect racialized individuals slightly more. The textbook suggests poverty is systematic and acts as a barrier for many people to have a fair and equal start in life. Chapter 3 provides a chart indicating the percentage of Canadians living in poverty by age, gender and family situation. The data provided indicates that women are predominately more affected by poverty.

This is due to the gender wage gap found in Canada. It is no surprise that Canada has one of the highest gender wage gaps in 34 nations of the committee according to the OECD report. The report indicates that the female median wage gap is 19 % in Canada as compared to the 15 % OECD average. It also indicates the largest group of people affected by poverty is unattached non-elderly people. In terms of the family constellation in Canada female lone-parent families are more inclined to live in poverty. This is due to the lack of affordable childcare as well as the gender wage gap. In short, the Campaign 2000 report states that the inequalities caused by racial discrimination, ableism, and colonialism translate into greater levels of poverty. The campaign 2000 report makes several recommendations about the social determinates of health in terms of income, housing, early child development, and employment. The report stresses raising families to the LIM for Canadian families to be at least 10% above the poverty line. This will contribute to the overall well-being of the child as different avenues have opened up. The reading also pushes for the implementation of high-quality childcare programs as more people are earning above the poverty line childcare does not seem unattainable. This program will take part in advancing healthy child development, school readiness, and well-being according to the national report. By introducing a child care program parents are in turn free to participate in the workforce or education. This will help curb the incidence of poverty amongst families. Yet again the report is urging the federal government to step up and take a more aggressive role in terms of social assistance. For parents to escape “the traps of poverty” as stated in the Campaign 2000 report, the government needs to invest in social safety nets.

For example, the report proposes that the government provide families with a national pharma care program in addition to enhancing a broad range of health services. This will curb poverty for working parents and enhance their overall health. The campaign 2000 report also notes that the ability of families to attain nutritious food depends on income and several other factors. The lack of food or the presence of unhealthy food is a direct link to a child’s health and early development. If a growing child goes hungry or continues to eat unhealthy foods one can assume their health is in poor condition. As stated in the report a child can suffer from ‘obesity, anemia, diabetes, and chronic stress from a lack of food security. Notably living in inadequate housing can negatively impact a child’s physical and mental development as mentioned in the report.

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The Negative Impact of Poverty on a Child's Physical and Mental Development. (2022, Aug 07). Retrieved from

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