Make ending ‘child poverty’ an election issue, says Ontario.

The annual child-poverty report being released in Ottawa Tuesday looks to all parties to address the issue in the 2018 Ontario election.

More than 475,000 Ontario children  or 17.2 per cent  are living in poverty, says a new report, which uses 2015 taxfiler data, the most current available.

Ontario Campaign 2000 in its annual report states that Ontario’s proposed $15 minimum wage, legislation to address precarious work and a plan to double the number of licensed child-care spots for young children represent promising progress in the battle against child poverty.But with a provincial election just over six months away, any gains could be swept away at the ballot box unless all parties make ending child poverty a key platform, warns the report.

The report defines poor children as those in families living below the Low-Income Measure after taxes, or 50 per cent of the median family income. That was about $24,500 for a lone parent with one child or about $36,400 for a couple with two kids in 2015.

Ontario’s introduction this fall of free tuition for families with incomes below $50,000, free prescription drugs for children and youth under age 25 starting in January 2018 and a three-year anti-racism strategy are also important provincial anti-poverty measures.

After missing its goal to cut child poverty by 25 per cent by 2013, the network calls on Ontario to commit to a 50-per-cent drop by 2019.

A recent Toronto report based on the census noted children across the region in racialized families  or families of colour  are twice as likely to be living in poverty than other children. Almost half of kids in newcomer families  most of whom are racialized  live below the Low-Income Measure, after taxes. And a troubling 84 per cent of Toronto’s Indigenous families with children are living in poverty, according to the report by a coalition of local agencies serving vulnerable families.

Quebec has the country’s lowest child poverty rate of 14.4 per cent. That province’s $7-a-day publicly funded child-care program, with fees capped at $20 a day for the wealthiest families, is widely viewed as key to Quebec’s relatively lower child-poverty rate.

According to taxfiler data, almost 16 per cent of children in Canada were living in poverty in 1989 when Parliament unanimously pledged to end child poverty by 2000. But due to lack of federal action on the promise, child poverty in Canada rose to 22.3 per cent in 2000.