News / Vancouver

B.C. MP James Moore apologizes for saying child poverty isn't Ottawa's problem

Federal Industry Minister James Moore apologized on Monday for making an "insensitive" comment to a reporter last week that child poverty is not Ottawa's problem.

"Is it my job to feed my neighbour's child? I don't think so," he chuckled to a Vancouver News1130 radio reporter, after saying the federal government is not going to "usurp the province's jurisdiction" over addressing child poverty.

At first, the MP for Port Moody-Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam insisted his comment had been taken out of context and also claimed the quote was inaccurate, but after the radio station posted the full audio clip on its website, he changed his tune.

"Caring for each other is a Canadian ethic that I strongly believe in — always have and always will," he said in a blog post published on his website on Monday.

"Of course poverty is an issue that concerns me, and concerns all Canadians. All levels of government, indeed all members of our society, have a responsibility to be compassionate and care for those in need."

B.C. has the highest child poverty rate in the country, at 18.6 per cent compared to the national rate of 13.3 per cent, according to child and youth advocacy group First Call.

Adrienne Montani, B.C. coordinator for First Call, said Moore's apology did not go far enough.

"He has a role as minister of industry to look at what kind of jobs, what kind of industries are getting federal government support and which kind aren't," she said.

"...Right now we need two parents to work in most families, so either bring down the cost of living, like childcare and housing, or raise wages, or make government subsidies better for those who the (job) market serves poorly and are on low wages. There are so many things they could do."

Moore did not make himself available for comment on Monday, and his press secretary Jake Enwright would not comment on whether the minister would apologize for calling the initial report on his comments inaccurate.

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