EDMONTON - On a day dedicated to our nation's children, Audrey Cormack, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour is asking the Klein government, "where is the money in the provincial budget that is dedicated to developing the province's most valuable resource - its children?"
"With 16 percent of children under the age of 18 living in poverty in this province, it seems pretty clear that there is not enough being done by this government," says Cormack.
"These children are being trapped in a cycle of poverty and violence, which lends itself to an array of other risks, delays and problems. Kids in these environments will probably face the same bleak reality as their parents - marginal employability and disempowerment," says Cormack.
A Report released in August 2000 by the Department of Children's Services shows child welfare caseloads have increased by 82% from 1992-1993 caseload rates. The report recommended that families with dependent children who are on welfare should have enough income to provide their children with life opportunities similar to those of other children in their communities.
"What this increase says to me is that there are even more children not being able to experience the so-called 'Alberta Advantage.' Instead, they are having to rely on a child welfare system that is stretched to the limit," says Cormack. "And we know children are poor because their parents are poor. That means Alberta should increase its minimum wage, for a start, and take a serious look at how Alberta families are coping in our province."
"Children are still bearing the burden of Klein's cuts. With all the money that has been poured into other resource areas lately, I urge this government to step up and put money into children. Child welfare, education and core funding for organizations that serve children, all need to become substantial parts of this government's spending."
National Child Day was created in 1993 by the Federal government to commemorate the United Nations' adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Rights covered under this convention include children's rights to education, healthcare and protection from harm.
President Cormack says, "I would hope that Mr. Klein would use this day to realize that our resources are not limited to oil and gas; Albertans need to be recognized. By putting money back into children, we take a step to ensuring the rights of children are met. They are too valuable a resource to disregard."
For further information contact:
Audrey M. Cormack, President (cell) 499-6530 / (hm) 428-9367 / (wk) 471-5525
Statistics Canada, Low Income Persons, 1980 to 1997(Catalogue 13-569-XIB)
The report "Child Welfare Caseload Growth in Alberta" (August 31, 2000) can be obtained from the Deputy Minister's Office, Childrens' Services, Government of Alberta.