The Price of Poverty


“That this House express its concern for the more than one million Canadian children currently living in poverty and seek to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000.”

House of Commons, unanimous all-party resolution, November 24, 1989.


On November 24th, 2014 it will be the 25th Anniversary of the House of Commons unanimous resolution to eliminate child poverty among Canadian children. Not only a worthy and attainable goal but a goal that will create a culture and society that will be sustainable and happy. Countries are made up of both fiscal and human resources. Countries or people can be rich but not wealthy. Without investment into the human infrastructure of a society, a country cannot be wealthy. The evidence tells us that a concentration on only finances and not the infrastructure, the people required to support a society will be costly. The evidence clearly states the cost of poverty is enormous and yet it has been not only ignored by politicians but the propaganda about the need to only reduce taxes and create a global economy has resulted in an increase in child poverty as well as an increase in poverty generally. A recent study has indicated that at least 1/3 of children in poverty come from homes where at least one parent works. In the almost twenty-five years since this resolution, poverty, especially child poverty, is no closer to being eradicated than in 1989. To complicate matters the gap between the richest Canadians and the rest is growing. Saying something doesn’t make it happen but it is action that will.


The cost of ignoring this issue will have long-term negative effects on education costs, health care, crime as well as the inclusion of all our people in our society. The marginalization of an increasing number of Canadians both politically and economically will continue to put a financial burden on our country today and in the future. In April 1999 the Hon. Margaret Norrie McCain and J. Fraser Mustard released a report ‘Reversing the Real Brain Drain’ Early Years Study. The purpose of the report was to understand brain development in the early years and its effect on subsequent learning, behaviour and health. The study concluded that poverty, the nature and nurture in brain development and negative life experiences that may include neglect or absence of appropriate stimulation will have lasting and damaging results. Fraser Mustard did a similar study for South Australia in 2007 (Adelaide: Thinkers in Residence).

The punishment for children being born into poverty in Canada is exclusion from the same educational and job opportunities as those children born into the wealthiest of Canadian families. The wealth of your parents is the greatest indicator of success. Recent studies indicate that for each dollar invested in children there will be a seventeen dollar return in the future. It seems to only be logical then to develop policies that strengthen and support the elimination of poverty. If it makes sense fiscally as well as benefits people and the well-being of society, then why does it not result in the policies required to reduce and eventually eliminate child poverty. Why is there not a larger investment in education, health and training? Why are policy makers not finding ways to create jobs that pay well so that working families do not have to live in poverty? Why are current policies on tax reduction and fiscal development focused on helping only a small portion of people?

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.

Henry Ford

It is the political rhetoric over the last 25 years in Canada that have made the fiscal economy the focus. The mendacity of the belief in what at one time was called Reaganomics or the Trickle-down theory. There is no evidence that making the rich richer will improve the well-being or reduce poverty for the majority or make Canada sustainable. The data actually shows the opposite. It shows the gap between rich and poor widening. Yet despite evidence not only in Canada but globally that a more comprehensive approach to reducing poverty and increasing the well-being of a society is required, we remain stuck with policies that will not address the real issues facing Canada.

Health Care, crime reduction, education are seen as spending rather than investing. Development of social policies that provide livable wages, pensions, and educational opportunities for everyone will result in a reduction of the symptoms causing an increase in unhealthy Canadians as a result of poverty.

There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible,

paying the highest wages possible.

Henry Ford

Times have changed since the days of Henry Ford. Businesses no longer need people to make money. The global economy has meant outsourcing of labour to reduce costs of products. Money made through investing and how well a company is doing is not based on sustainable elements but rather the profit the company has made. The speculation and untruthfulness to money markets makes the paying of livable wages with pensions not a necessity for financial success. Current policies support protecting and enhancing the lives of a small group of people rather than concerning itself with the health and sustainability of our country.

We need to change the way we think. If we are going to reduce or eliminate child poverty, poverty generally, we need to think of health, education, training as investments not spending. We need to pay now as our human infrastructure deficit is increasing and unless we reverse the trend our children will be burdened with a Canada we no longer recognize.


Other Articles:

Manitoba’s shocking poverty rate, By Paul S. Graham on January 6, 2013

Anti-poverty group urges end of child tax benefits, Allison Jones, The Canadian Press, November 21, 2012 Read more:

About jameswhoddinott

My novel 'When Eagles Dare to Fly' represents my belief that good will always triumph over evil and by developing who we are on the inside we will find our way. My newest novel 'The Fates' was released earlier this year that examines a society that discovers immortality. I have a blog called an 'Author, blogger and his musings' which talks about my writing, political issues as well as other areas of interest like education, art and photography,
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3 Responses to The Price of Poverty

  1. Pingback: Protecting our Children – Are We Doing Enough? | James W Hoddinott

  2. Pingback: The Politics of Human Rights | James W Hoddinott

  3. Pingback: Putting Children First | James W Hoddinott

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