Stories about child poverty caught Crowder’s eye

MP Jean Crowder discusses child poverty and provides information about the opportunity for local youth to become Parliamentary Guides.

Two stories about child poverty, one close to home and one overseas, caught my eye this month.

Campaign 2000’s recent report on child poverty demonstrates that 23 years after Parliament unanimously pledged to eradicate child poverty, even more children — not fewer — are living with hunger and deprivation in this country.

That means one in seven Canadian children lives in poverty. Campaign 2000 estimates that poverty costs this country $72 billion every year.

That’s why I have a private member’s Bill C-233 that calls on the federal government to develop a national anti-poverty strategy, in consultation with the provinces and territories and other stakeholders like First Nations.

Without a national anti-poverty strategy, Canadian poverty levels will continue to rise, threatening the next generation’s economic stability.

For children in Africa, where poverty is even more profound, a recent vote in the House of Commons was a blow.

On Nov. 28, the Conservatives voted down the NDP’s Medicines For All Act. This bill would have opened the door to shipping low-cost versions of life-saving medicines to people in the developing world for treatable illnesses like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

When the Canadian Access to Medicines Regime launched in 2004, it had a fatal flaw. Generic drug producers had to apply for a new licence for every shipment, and getting one takes years of legal wrangling.

In fact, only one affordable drug shipment ever left Canada. Its licence took four years to secure. The company that managed that shipment has said it will not try to send another.

Bill C-398 proposed a “One Licence Solution” for generic drug makers, making it simpler and faster to send shipments overseas.

With the bill’s defeat, the Opposition cannot bring forward this issue again until the next Parliament. But nothing stops the government from introducing legislation to fix this flaw and help millions of people in developing countries survive treatable illness.

One final note.

Each year at this time, the Parliament of Canada recruits bilingual guides for the hundreds of thousands of visitors that visit the Parliament Buildings every summer.

As a guide, you’ll gain extensive knowledge of Canada’s political system, past and present and about the art and architecture of your Parliament Buildings. You’ll also…

• hone your public speaking abilities;

• perfect your official second language;

• experience our nation’s capital; and

• build friendships with people from across Canada.

As your Member of Parliament, I would be proud to see more young people from our community join the guiding team. The two-part application process starts with an online form. Get started now by clicking here.

The application deadline is Jan. 15. Don’t delay, because you’ll need to get several documents together ahead of time.