Saskatchewan has a child poverty problem. Prior to even pandemic times, Saskatchewan had 1 in 4 children living in poverty, although the rates are far higher in Regina Elphinstone Centre and many others. In this beautiful, bountiful province of ours, this is a disgrace.
We have one of the highest rates in Canada, in fact. We know that poor children live with poor families. This poverty is most highly concentrated in lone-parent families (95% of which are female led), as well as newcomer and Indigenous communities. The poverty is most acute among children age 0-6 when their development is most key. Perhaps most shocking of all, many children living in poverty have a working parent. No one should live in poverty, but that a job doesn’t guarantee freedom from poverty points to larger problems that this government has failed to address.
Meara is committed to key measures that would see an immediate change in child poverty rates:
- 15$/hr minimum wage – as a large proportion of children in poverty actually have a working parent.
- Raise the rates – sufficient income assistance rates so that struggling families can get back on their feet. Current levels are not enough to live on and have been consistently cut back.
- Access to quality, affordable child care – right now in Saskatchewan, a single mother of three making minimum wage does not qualify for the maximum childcare subsidy (which only covers a portion of childcare fees to begin with). The subsidy has not increased in over 25 years! Access to childcare would jumpstart our stagnating economy by getting parents into the workforce and would provide enriching education to children during a key period in their development. The NDP is concerned that the Sask Party has not committed to accessing all Federal dollars announced for early learning education (ECE) initiatives across the country. A key part of this picture is ensuring that we have properly trained, and sufficiently remunerated ECE educators. The sector struggles with attracting and retaining trained educators due to low wages.
The cost of child poverty is very high, estimated at about $4 billion a year in decreased opportunity and increased healthcare, justice, and social services spending. Addressing child poverty would not only improve the lives of many across this province, it makes good fiscal sense