Friday, November 27, 2009

National Coalition Against Poverty Vows to End Poverty and Homelessness

A new group with a brand new website is dedicated to working for Canada's most vulnerable. There is no reason why any child should go hungry in this country, or any person should live on the streets.

They are not "no-good bastards", as Gerald Keddy would imply. They could be you or me, or anyone, who finds themselves with no more options.

Stephen Harper wants to dismantle the "welfare state", and we simply can't let him.

The video above was very troubling for me because I could identify with the stories. I grew up poor and remember many times telling the teacher I forgot my lunch. I spent weeks in detention because I couldn't afford the 'regulation stockings' that went with my school uniform.

No one should have to live like that. Author, publisher and activist, Mel Hurtig wrote a book, Pay the Rent or Feed the Kids, and it would absolutely break your heart the way that many people are forced to live.

We have to keep at this government and the Canadian voters, to make this a priority. We must end poverty, it's that simple.

Make sure you check out the website of the N.C.A.P. and help them in their fight.

Canada needs a national children's commissioner
Ottawa Citizen
By Nigel Fisher, Citizen Special
November 20, 2009

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Its adoption by almost every country ushered in a revolutionary new consensus on childhood. In ratifying the convention, nations acknowledged children are not only members of families, communities and nations, but human beings in their own right.

To grow up healthy, develop to their full potential and be protected from harm are not privileges, but the fundamental rights of every child. For governments, such as Canada's which ratified the convention, assuring the fulfillment of the rights of children was no longer simply an option, but an obligation.

During the course of my career at UNICEF, which began before the convention was adopted and has taken me around the world, I have seen first hand the convention's power to inspire and deliver measurable change for children. It has provoked changes in law, increased investments in children's services, caused international organizations to rethink how they work, spurred governments to change how they hold themselves accountable for children's rights and well-being, and changed societal attitudes toward childhood.

We have made some progress.

For the first time in history, the number of children under five dying each year has fallen below 10 million. More children than ever before are enrolling in, and completing elementary school. And millions of children are better protected now by laws that make child trafficking a crime.

In Canada, we see the impact of the convention in many areas. Today, most provinces have independent advocates for children. Our legal framework to protect children from exploitation is among the strongest in the world.

But there remains much unfinished business.

The real test of our commitment to children's rights is not how well the majority is doing, but how well the most vulnerable children -- those marginalized by poverty, gender, ethnicity, geography and ability -- are faring.

Globally, we must give particular attention to those children who are most often victims of violence, abuse and exploitation or whose lives are disrupted by conflict and natural disaster.

We must build a protective environment for them with laws, policies and practices to assure their rights. And, we must challenge social norms that undermine their rights.

The persistent challenges of HIV and AIDS, discrimination and poverty demand renewed commitment to the right of the world's children to survive and thrive, especially at this time of economic crisis. Now is precisely the time to maintain our investment in children and to safeguard their well-being.

Here in Canada, we must not become complacent. We are a wealthy country, yet about one in nine children lives in poverty. Too many children are in the child welfare and justice systems and too few are receiving adequate mental health care. On every indicator of well-being, our aboriginal children fare worse than Canada's children overall. Amazingly, it is difficult to assemble even such basic facts about Canadian children.

At the federal level, there is no one with the responsibility to call attention to children's best interests, to bring together information and analysis on the status of our nation's children and to ensure that when legislation, policy and budgeting are developed, regular consideration is given to their impact on children.

This is why UNICEF Canada, along with many organizations and citizens, are calling for a national children's commissioner. Legislation is currently before Parliament to establish this office. I urge all parliamentarians to ensure the bill is passed.

On the international stage, as Canada prepares to host the G8 and G20 meetings next year, we must resolve to keep the promises we've made to the world's children even as we deal with pressing economic, social and environmental concerns. A G8 commitment to further invest in children's well-being would be an historic and forward-looking legacy.

The 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is an opportunity to celebrate achievements, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to recommit to a promise made.

We can do more.

Each of us has the power to help create a world fit for children and to help ensure that the rights of all children everywhere are fulfilled. A world fit for every child without exception, is a world fit for everyone.

(Nigel Fisher is president and CEO of UNICEF Canada.)

More Postings on Canada's Poor:

1. Pay the Rent, or Feed the Kids. How Did we Let This Happen?

2. Do Tories Really Hate Children or do They Just Not Care?

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