Federal government moves to secure country’s first poverty reduction strategy through legislation
November 6, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Canada Without Poverty (CWP) recognizes the tabling of the Poverty Reduction Act by the federal government today as a critical step in addressing poverty, while calling for the government to commit to more immediate action to eliminate poverty in Canada.
The Act will ensure the country’s first national poverty reduction strategy, Opportunity for All, is based in legislation, ensuring that the strategy stands the test of time, and is not subject to political whims of governments. Legislation for the poverty strategy was a key appeal of the Dignity for All campaign, a national anti-poverty movement co-led by CWP and Citizens for Public Justice, which mobilized community members to make up over 75 per cent of all emails received during the government’s consultation.
“With this bill, the federal government is, in many ways, catching up to the provinces and territories who have long legislated their poverty strategies, starting with Québec in 2002. What could set this strategy apart is a tangible commitment to our international human rights obligations — notably the right to an adequate standard of living,” said Leilani Farha, Executive Director of CWP.
“To relieve poverty in Canada, we have to address the root causes. Legislating the CPRS means we can keep moving forward and the introduction of today’s measures will help move us towards meeting our human rights obligations and our international commitments like the Sustainable Development Goals — number one of which is the elimination of poverty.”
In the Act, the government also tabled two other components of the strategy, Canada’s first official poverty line, based on the Market Basket Measure, and the National Advisory Council on Poverty. During the press conference, Minister Duclos was asked whether the Council would be genuinely independent, adequately-funded, and able to address cases of systemic discrimination, and he indicated this would be the case, but information on these elements of the Council have yet to be announced.
CWP and Dignity for All have been calling for a reinstitution of the National Council of Welfare since it was dismantled in 2012. While the introduction of the Council in the Act today is welcome news, it is critically important that its members are persons with lived experience and that the Council can act as an accountability mechanism to ensure progress to identify and remedy those root causes of poverty.
“The administrative tools tabled today will be helpful in the long-term goal of eradicating poverty. However, much more is needed for the roughly five million people in Canada who suffer poverty every day. Each day that we are not effectively and comprehensively addressing their needs is a day that we are prolonging the gravest violation of their human rights,” said Harriett McLachlan, Deputy Director of CWP.
“Minister Duclos outlined a vision of a ‘Canada without poverty’ today. To make a poverty-free Canada truly possible, all levels of governments, policymakers, and parliamentarians must be committed to both long-term and immediate action.”
About Canada Without Poverty
Canada Without Poverty (CWP) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, and charitable organization dedicated to ending poverty in Canada. The organization was created in 1971 as an outcome of the Poor People’s Conference, a national gathering of low-income individuals, under the name National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO). For nearly 50 years, CWP has been championing the rights of individuals experiencing poverty and marginalization through research, awareness-building campaigns, public policy development, and educational programming. See more at: www.cwp-csp.ca.
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Canada Without Poverty
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