How do we ensure that the federal government’s budget 2019 is inclusive and innovative for people in poverty? By bringing the voices of people in poverty to Parliament Hill.
Watch CWP’s presentation to the Committee on our Youtube channel. Read CWP’s written submission to the consultation here.
Tomorrow, representatives of Canada Without Poverty (CWP) will appear on the Standing Committee on Finance’s Pre-Budget Consultations for the 2019 budget. With a focus on “Inclusive Economic Growth and Competitiveness”, the upcoming federal budget must centre solutions to pressing concerns for people across the country, including the millions of people in Canada living in poverty.
In July of this year, CWP submitted our written recommendations for Budget 2019, which included a diverse range of policy areas including childcare, transportation, and pharmacare. CWP’s presentation will be broadcast live on Thursday through our social media platforms, but in addition, this week we’re taking a dive into some of the key recommendations for an inclusive Canadian economy.
If the federal government is serious about developing an inclusive economy, addressing core needs and significant barriers to economic participation – particularly for marginalized groups. One concrete example of a striking needs is access to affordable and adequate childcare.
There is strong evidence that increasing female labour force participation and reducing gaps between male and female labour force participation results in faster economic growth, increasing the competitiveness of the overall economy. With economic growth and competitiveness on the agenda, and knowing that lack of affordable childcare is a primary barrier to employment for women, the federal government clearly must take leadership on childcare.
With the increase of only one percentage point of GDP in increased investment, the federal government could invest in an affordable and universal early childhood education and care framework – and invest well beyond the limited overtures to devolved childcare programmes they’ve made so far. Québec, the only province with a fully subsidized and accessible childcare structure, illustrates the impact such a framework could have on female labour force participation.
While the federal government must coordinate with other levels of government – for example provinces and territories – there is a clear leadership role to play in setting human rights standards and ensuring adequate investment flows through to other levels of government.
In August, the federal government released the long-awaited Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy (CPRS) – and while CWP welcomed the launch of a national plan that so many in the anti-poverty had been calling for, the lack of financial investment in new programmes to address poverty for the millions of people in Canada currently experiencing it was disappointing.
Eradicating poverty is key to strengthening the Canadian economy and increasing competitiveness, so it’s concerning that the CPRS lacked an announcement of new, innovative, bold, and adequately-funded measures to effectively address poverty.
That’s why our recommendations for Budget 2019 include increasing the amount of transfers to provinces and territories with earmarked sufficient funds for social assistance programs, and designating that payments are conditional on rates being set at levels that meet an adequate standard of living, and calling on the government to set other national standards on the minimum wage.
Last year, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative’s incredible Kate McInturff presented to the FINA Committee on the critical need to fund grassroots feminist organizations. While this federal government has at times lauded the value of Canada’s civil society organizations, at events like the W7 and Universal Periodic Review of Canada at the United Nations, the on-the-ground reality is that organizations led by women, particularly those from marginalized communities, who do essential work for underserved groups face significant funding and resource challenges.
For nearly 50 years, CWP has been championing the human rights of individuals experiencing poverty and for our entire existence, our Board of Directors has been comprised entirely of people with a lived experience of poverty. To relieve poverty in Canada we must identify and address systemic discrimination against people in poverty – and the best way to do so is by hearing directly from those with lived experience.
The government should increase and track core funding for organizations comprised of and led by women from diverse and marginalized communities that continues to grow in line with GDP, and take steps to realize the rights of the most marginalized peoples in Canada.