Top 10 Reasons Why Poverty must be Eliminated in Canada

At Canada Without Poverty, our goal is to eliminate poverty in Canada. With widespread systemic change, including a federal anti-poverty plan grounded in human rights principles, we believe that poverty truly can be eliminated in Canada. And poverty must be eliminated.

Here are the top 10 reasons why:

10. Canada already promised to end poverty: In 1989, the House of Commons unanimously committed to end child poverty. That clearly hasn’t happened, especially for children who are part of marginalized groups. In fact, 40% of Indigenous Children in Canada live in poverty.

9. Poverty can happen to anyone: Causes of poverty are diverse, and can include domestic violence, loss of employment and health problems. It really can happen to anyone.

8. Poverty actually affects how long people live: A McMaster Study found a 21-year difference in life expectancy between inhabitants of the poorest neighbourhood and those in the wealthiest neighbourhood in Hamilton, Ontario. We are literally shortening people’s lives by not doing something about poverty.

7. Poverty affects people’s quality of life, including their health: the National Population Health Survey found that 73% of Canadians with high incomes reported their health as excellent, compared to 47% of Canadians with the lowest level of incomes.

6. Poverty is a major barrier to overcome before Canada can present itself as a country that recognizes equality: Racialized groups and recent immigrants are more likely to be living in poverty, have low paying jobs and be unemployed compared to non-racialized Canadians. Poverty is, therefore, also a problem of equality.

5. Canada’s lack of action to end poverty is shameful: Canada has no long term strategy to end poverty. Instead, the government’s focus is on short term, band-aid solutions. For example, food banks were created in the 1980s as a very temporary solution to food insecurity, but in March of 2014 833,098 people in Canada turned to food banks. 30 years have passed, how do we not have a long term solution to poverty?

4. Canada has been scolded by the international community for not addressing poverty issues: The UN Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review procedure assessed Canada’s human rights record. One recommendation was that we develop a national anti-poverty strategy, which Canada rejected.

3. We have no excuse not to: Canada has one of the highest GDPs in the world. We clearly have the financial resources to end poverty, so why haven’t we?

2. Poverty costs Canadians A LOT of money: Poverty costs Canada $72-84 billion a year – for Ontarians this means between $2,299 and $2,895 every year, and for British Columbians, this equates to over $2,100 each year.

1. Canada is LEGALLY obligated to address poverty: the federal government is required to fulfill the human rights standards listed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This means ensuring the right to an adequate standard of living including access to water, food and housing, the right to participate in the labour force, a minimum wage set at a living wage, as well as providing citizens with the opportunity to report violations of these rights.

Canada Without Poverty is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, charitable organization dedicated to the elimination of poverty in Canada. CWP is here because of your support. We would not be able to continue our work in eliminating poverty without your help. Please consider making a donation to CWP to support our work in ending poverty for everyone in Canada.

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