Here is a PDF version of the CLICK Fall 2013 Newsletter
Solving child poverty a moral issue, says BC doctor
Dr. John Millar is one of this province’s most prominent public health experts. He is a former BC Provincial Health Officer, Clinical Professor Emeritus in the UBC Faculty of Medicine, School of Population and Public Health and Vice-President of the Public Health Association of BC. His concern about the province’s high rate of child poverty has prompted him to speak out on the urgency of solving the problem.
How serious is the problem of child poverty in BC?
The problem is very serious. Over the past decade BC has had the worst rates of child and family poverty in the country or has been tied for the worst. I find it morally shocking that we have any child poverty. This is unnecessary in a province as wealthy as ours.
Who are the families of these children? What are these parents facing?
We know from Statistics Canada data that about half of the families living in poverty have two working parents. So they’re working in low wage jobs, sometimes in two or three low wage jobs, to try to make ends meet. But a family living at the poverty line in Vancouver cannot adequately provide for their children so they face significant daily stress.
How does living in poverty affect the health of these children?
We know that people who grow up in poverty have worse health and die younger. In fact, the most recent data on life expectancy in the lower socio-economic groups in BC show that their life expectancy is going down. In other words, people are dying because we’re not doing enough about poverty. Some economists have described this as social murder.
When you talk to people and groups about child poverty, what is their reaction?
The first and most common reaction is denial. I often hear people saying, “There’s no poverty here.” But when I show them the data – good, solid Statistics Canada data – they’re pretty shocked to find 10-15 per cent of children in this province are living in poverty. Then I often hear, “Okay, maybe there are some poor people but they’re lazy, they just don’t want to work and that’s why they’re poor.” Well, guess what, these people are working very hard to provide for their families. They’re not lazy. Most families are trying to do the right things.
How can we solve child poverty in BC?
We can build on things we’ve already done. The government has raised the minimum wage and moved to all-day kindergarten. But other provinces, like Quebec, Ontario and Newfoundland, have done much more. They’ve introduced more affordable child care, raised welfare rates and increased social housing, and their poverty rates have gone way down. It’s time to get a poverty reduction strategy for BC. Why are we one of the last to do it? Also there’s the economic case: poverty is costing BC $9-billion a year and we could get rid of it for $4-billion a year.
How important are organizations like CLICK in mitigating the effects of child poverty?
I think it’s wonderful what CLICK and food banks, community centres and friendship centres across the province are doing. All of them are pitching in with volunteers to try to mitigate the effects of poverty. But my view is that the government is failing in its responsibility by leaving it up to philanthropy and volunteers to solve poverty.
Is the issue of child poverty just a social and political issue?
It is certainly a social and political issue, and also an economic issue because we’re spending billions of dollars to keep people living in poverty when it could be solved for less. But knowing that poverty exists, and that it could be solved, makes it a problem of social injustice and a profoundly moral issue.
Here is a video we put together of the interview with Dr. John Millar
Several years ago I was invited by the teacher of a Grade 5 class in Vancouver to talk about CLICK and accept a cheque from a recent fundraiser. After my talk the students were invited to ask questions. “Is it more important to give money to people in Vancouver or people in other countries?” asked one girl.
It was a great question from a highly inquisitive child and, given the latest disaster in the Philippines, it remains a very relevant question. I told the class that many people around the world need help and that we each have to decide who we’re going to help. Some people help those in their city as well as those in other countries, I added.
If you believe in helping those near and far, consider this: BC now has the highest rate of child poverty in Canada, and that poverty hurts children on a daily basis and threatens their chances for a better future.
CLICK needs your help to reach our 2013 fundraising goal of $75,000. For our kids in our city, please DONATE what you can.
Thanks for caring,
CLICK donor keeps working for a more compassionate world
At 94, Bob Lane has seen a lot of life and a lot of change. The long-time CLICK donor was born in 1920 in a log cabin in rural Alberta, was shot down when he was an air force navigator in World War Two and went on to work as a federal immigration officer and raise a family.
He starts his day by walking a mile every morning, watches his diet and reads up on current events. There’s still a spark in his eye and he’s still very engaged in his community.
Bob learned about CLICK through his friendship with CLICK co-founder Alva Jenson.
“Alva was teaching at Strathcona Elementary on the Downtown Eastside. She found that many students were coming to school without breakfast and this was affecting their ability to learn. My wife and I decided we wanted to support programs helping these children.”
His commitment to do something about child poverty is part of Bob’s deep belief that we must all do something to bring about social change.
“We are not a compassionate society because we emphasize business and making money, not what’s best for people,” he says.
The violence and horror of war also galvanized Bob to work for change. When he retired he helped establish the BC Coalition for World Disarmament. He helped organize peace conferences and the End the Arms Race marches that drew up to 80,000 marchers in Vancouver in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
Bob was also inspired to commit his life to social action by his faith. He believes that Jesus was a man of his time who didn’t exclude anyone, and for decades Bob has been on social action and outreach committees at his church.
Just like the one-mile walk he does every morning, giving has become a habit in Bob’s life.
“CLICK is doing a good job. I’ll give to any group that I feel is making a difference,” he says.
Thanks to our sponsors and partners!
Hold a Fun-Raiser and make a difference!
If you’re planning a party or special event for the holiday season, why not make it a CLICK Fun-Raiser and help children in need in your city? A Fun-Raiser can be any event where you ask your guests to donate to help CLICK help kids. One couple took donations at their 35th wedding anniversary…another sent CLICK donations from a Halloween bash. Anything goes! For more details go to email@example.com
Get to know our Board of Directors
CLICK’s volunteer Board of Directors puts in hundreds of hours every year to raise funds and awareness about children living in poverty in Vancouver. Board members reflect the rich diversity of our city. Get to know the CLICK board here
This Holiday Season, Help CLICK Help Inner City Kids…
The holidays are almost here…but for children living in poverty in Vancouver, the season isn’t always merry.
Inner city children live in families who are often struggling to cover their basic living expenses – let alone finding extra money for presents. Families will rely on food hampers and any support they can get from their community to make Christmas special.
CLICK (Contributing to the Lives of Inner City Kids) funds vital programs that work to break the cycle that Vancouver’s inner city kids face daily due to poverty and its very significant effects. BC now has the highest child poverty rate in Canada.
Give a gift that gives year-round. CLICK needs your help to help Vancouver’s inner city kids. The programs we support offer safe out-of-school care, food programs, help with crucial skills such as reading and writing, and access to sports, arts and other activities that many children take for granted.
With thanks and warm wishes,