Experiences and opportunities in childhood are greatly influenced by economic circumstances. Poverty in particular affects children in a myriad of ways, and it disproportionately affects certain groups: children in single-parent families, Aboriginal children, children with disabilities or whose parents have disabilities, and immigrant and visible minority children.
Some children never experience poverty; they enjoy all the benefits and opportunities an adequate family income can provide. But since 1989, the annual poverty rate has fluctuated between 15% and 24%. Deep and persistent poverty has a critical effect on children’s well-being and development. Some children spend their lives in poverty, while others move into and out of poverty, usually as a result of family breakdown, or parents finding or losing employment. Parents, too, are affected by the constant stress of poverty, and parental stress affects children.
Government transfers - such as Employment Insurance (EI), the National Child Benefit, and the GST credit - do make a difference. The child poverty rate in 2003 was 18%; without government transfers, it would have been 27%.