Federal budget takes aim at repairing social safety net, makes housing and childcare priorities
For immediate release
OTTAWA (22 March 2017) – Investments in social infrastructure, dedicated resources for housing, and a commitment to childcare are all cornerstones of the new federal budget and mark steps towards addressing the widespread inequality and high rates of poverty in Canada.
Canada Without Poverty (CWP), one of Canada’s leading anti-poverty organizations, sees this budget as a start to repairing a broken social safety net which offers a glimpse of the future, but unfortunately forces low-income people to wait until 2018 in many cases for the dollars to roll out into tangible programs. The upcoming National Housing Strategy and Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy will now be critical in bringing the budget to life by determining priorities and next steps.
Notably absent from the budget is a set of principles guiding the spending of the big dollars attached to social infrastructure including housing.
“The United Nations has been clear with Canada, spending willy-nilly is not going to solve homelessness and inadequate housing in this rich country. Canada needs to adopt a human rights framework that puts guidelines on funding for provinces and territories including human rights norms like non-discrimination and equality, measurable goals and timelines, review and claiming mechanisms,” Leilani Farha, Executive Director of CWP said.
“Human rights cannot be put on hold.”
“We applaud the inclusion of rent subsidies and opening up of federal lands to develop affordable housing, but were surprised by the timidity of this government to tackle head on the financialization of housing. In major cities housing is now a lucrative and safe place to park and grow capital – an investment rather than a home– leading to extreme housing unaffordability for low and middle income people ,” stated CWP’s Deputy Director, Megan Hooft.
“You don’t need to look farther then Vancouver and Toronto to see there is a housing crisis in Canada, and the results on stark: hundreds of thousands homeless, low rental vacancy rates and skyrocketing prices.”
The investment of $21.9 billion over the next 11 years in social infrastructure represents a shift towards reinvigorating the social programs that help Canada’s most marginalized communities, but funding must come alongside conditions and regulations for provincial and territorial governments to ensure the resources reach those at the ground level.
“We want to be clear – what’s good about this budget is that the government is doing exactly what it is required to do according to its human rights obligations– to find and spend adequate resources to address the needs of the most marginalized groups,” remarked Ms. Farha. “A move towards gender analysis in budgeting and long-term vision to rebuild our frayed social framework should set the tone for all governments on social policy decisions moving forward.”
Nearly five million people in Canada live in poverty and poverty costs the Canadian economy over $70 billion annually. The 2017 budget is a step in the right direction, but falls short of providing the comprehensive supports needed to ensure the Canadian government is meeting its obligations to people living in poverty.
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