Advocates from across Canada Call on Feds to Step Up Poverty Legislation in Open Letter
The Dignity for All Campaign and Campaign 2000, along with over 500 anti-poverty advocates and organizations, have sent an open letter to the federal government with recommendations to strengthen the forthcoming legislation of Canada’s first federal poverty reduction strategy.
For Immediate Release
Ottawa, ON, February 20, 2019 – Ahead of the federal government’s legislation of Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (CPRS), Campaign 2000 and the Dignity for All Campaign, co-led by Citizens for Public Justice and Canada Without Poverty have sent an open letter to Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, with recommendations to strengthen Bill C-87, An Act respecting the reduction of poverty.
More than 90 organizations have signed the letter, including national and regional groups, and over 400 individuals from across Canada added their name to the letter, including those with lived experiences of poverty. Notable signatories include the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, the Canadian Health Coalition, the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society, Oxfam Canada, Child Care Now, UNICEF, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, the Canadian Labour Congress, the YWCA, Unifor, and more.
“As organizations and individuals that are working to end poverty in Canada, we believe that this legislation must be strengthened to ensure we meet the first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end poverty by 2030,” the letter states.
The letter follows years of campaigning by the Dignity for All Campaign and partners aimed at the establishment of Canada’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy. When the federal government announced the CPRS in August 2018, the coalition shifted their focus to the legislation of the strategy. With the November 2018 tabling of Bill C-87, which legislates the CPRS, the coalition’s momentum has continued to grow.
Anita Khanna, National Coordinator of Campaign 2000, says the details contained in the forthcoming legislation will have serious repercussions for those experiencing poverty in Canada. “After decades of promises to end child poverty, we finally have legislation that will help us hold government accountable for action-or inaction-in continually reducing poverty. All parties claim a commitment to children and families, yet we are now in the thirtieth year of the all-party resolution to end child poverty by the year 2000 and 1.4 million children still live in poverty. The open letter outlines clear steps to help get this legislation right so the long-awaited CPRS lives up to its potential to make poverty history.
Similarly, Darlene O’Leary, Socio-economic Policy Analyst at Citizens for Public Justice says “CPJ and the Dignity for All campaign are pleased to see legislation of the poverty strategy move forward, but it needs stronger targets, accountability mechanisms, and a goal of ending poverty. Our recommendations show how this can be done so the strategy can be implemented without delay.”
Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing and Executive Director at Canada Without Poverty, also sees this as an important moment.
“Canada’s commitment to the SDGs and its international human rights obligations require that the maximum of available resources are used to fulfil human rights, including the right to an adequate standard of living,” she said. “Now is the moment to get it right by aiming to end poverty for everyone – something that is certainly achievable for such a wealthy country.”
This Bill comes at a critical moment in Canada’s history. With the upcoming federal election later this year, the group is urging the government to pass legislation for the CPRS before the end of this parliamentary session. Among its five key recommendations, the letter outlines the need to improve Canada’s Official Poverty Line (the Market Basket Measure), establish the National Advisory Council on Poverty as an independent body, and raise ambition to end poverty in Canada by 2030.
About Dignity for All
Since 2009, Dignity for All has called for a comprehensive, rights-based, and adequately-funded national anti-poverty plan. In 2015, co-leaders of the campaign Canada Without Poverty and Citizens for Public Justice worked with partner organizations, community and faith groups, and people with lived experience of poverty to draft a model plan with strong targets and a human rights-based approach which was endorsed by over 12,000 people and organizations. In 2017, the DFA network made up over 75 per cent of email submissions to the government’s consultation for the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy.