While the NDP grassroots would prefer their MLAs to shout news of their work on poverty reduction from rooftops, the government takes a quieter approach. They simply get to work rebuilding the social safety net damaged after decades of Liberal inaction and Conservative idling.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives called 1989-1999 “A Decade Lost“. Under the Liberal governments of Savage and McLellan and the Conservative governments of Bacon and Cameron the child poverty rate increased by 12.4%.
As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reported last year, in 2009 progress on reducing child poverty in Nova Scotia had stalled after progress in the first years of the new century.
Since being elected in 2009, the NDP has extended the Nova Scotia Child Benefit. It now helps 24,000 families, and almost twice as many children. There are other steps the Darrell Dexter government has taken that shows the NDP correctly realizes that helping poor women helps poor children.
One important issue affecting child poverty is the minimum wage. When children are poor, it is most often because their mother is poor. Both Conservative and Liberal MLAs have suggested the minimum wage has increased too quickly under the NDP. They are wrong. Continuing to make steady increases in the minimum wage is vitally important to reducing child poverty. 20% of single mothers live with low incomes.
Affordable childcare is another key to helping mothers, and their kids. There are now 1000 more child care subsidies – the fastest expansion of affordable child care Nova Scotia has seen.
And removing the provincial portion of the HST from household necessities like children’s shoes, clothing and diapers help Nova Scotia’s poorest families balance their budgets.
Expect the NDP to continue to take steps to reduce child poverty in their 4th year in office – not because it is a vote winner (there is no evidence it is a vote determining issue) but because it is the right thing to do.