Presentation to the Finance Committee on Bill C-38

Canada Without Poverty was invited to present to the Finance Committee on Bill C-38, the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act.  Today, CWP Executive Director Rob Rainer spoke to concerns of the omnibus bill and the need to focus on specific themes in due course through the appropriate democratic process that has been established.  This involves separate consultation, discussion and debate on each part of the bill with civil society, experts and government officials.

In Mr. Rainer’s presentation  he asks,

“What is the government’s purpose – and in addition what is really in the public interest – in centralizing power in the PMO? What indeed, when staff are not elected and when it has been demonstrated time and time again that regulations rarely are held truly accountable to Parliament?

If you recommend that Bill C-38 be passed, you would recommend to your colleagues that they remove their oversight of matters that directly affect your constituents. We don’t think MPs were elected to delegate their powers of oversight, transparency and accountability. Substantive issues such as the innumerable ones encompassed in this bill should go to Parliament on the recommendation of government, to be debated and potentially passed. What’s happening here is the reverse.”

He also highlighted four areas that required immediate attention:

One, giving authority to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development toVincrease the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement – a move that will definitively injure those who most need OAS, the poor or
almost poor who are approaching the age of 65.

Two, permitting regulations to be made concerning what constitutes suitable employment – troubling considering the Minister of Finance believes there is no bad job, when the swelling ranks of the working poor would suggest otherwise.

Three, dramatic operational changes to social security tribunal hearings – with very real risk that those who have the right to Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan or Employment Insurance benefits may be unable to effectively claim them.

Four, eliminating the National Council of Welfare – undermining the identification of the most promising approaches and solutions to poverty.”

The presentation concluded with a continued call for a federal poverty elimination strategy, and reference to the newly established federal poverty caucus, which Canada Without Poverty has been involved with.  Without federal leadership poverty will remain a pressing issue in this country.

To read the full presentation to the Finance Committee click here.

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