Six out of Canada’s ten provinces have adopted poverty reduction plans and are waiting on the federal government to step up to the plate too and adopt a national poverty reduction plan. Our provinces and territories cannot fight poverty alone.
It’s time Canada adopt a national poverty reduction plan.
Canada needs a plan to reduce poverty. Six out of ten provinces, that is, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, have poverty reduction plans in place. Anti-poverty groups in other provinces and territories have campaigns underway to press their governments to adopt a poverty reduction plan.
Read more on provincial and territorial poverty reduction plans:
In November 2010, the Parliamentary Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development or HUMA committee, released a report which calls for the federal government to immediately commit to a federal action plan to reduce poverty in Canada. The report, Federal Poverty Reduction Plan: Working in Partnership Towards Reducing Poverty in Canada, is the result of an extensive three-year study on the federal role in addressing poverty.
Poverty reduction plans work.
A poverty reduction plan that includes poverty reduction targets and a coordinated set of policies has been shown to deliver results in other countries and in Canadian provinces where they have been implemented.
Simply put, a poverty reduction strategy is a wide-ranging, coordinated, and long-term plan to reduce or eliminate poverty. It is based on achievable targets, it focuses on the needs and participation of those most affected and provides a system of accountability.
To its great shame, Canada has never had a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy. As a result, poverty rates are much higher in Canada than they are in many European countries where governments have made poverty reduction a priority.
Compared with most developed countries, Canada has a higher rate of poverty and a faster-growing gap between rich and poor. In Canada, an average of 1 in 10 children lives in poverty. In First Nations communities, one in four children lives in poverty.
Poverty reduction plans help us keep our promises.
There was an all party resolution passed unanimously by the Canadian parliament in 1989 calling for an end to child poverty by the year 2000, but no plan was adopted to achieve this goal and child poverty rates remain at the same high level today.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Canada can do much better.
And there has been great momentum building in the past few years:
A National Poverty Reduction Strategy been endorsed by the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights in its April 2007 report, Children: The Silenced Citizens.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance recommended in its 2007 pre-budget report that the Federal government develop a poverty reduction strategy with targets and timelines to reduce child poverty in Canada. It also recommended a coordinated strategy of meeting "with the provincial/territorial governments and groups assisting and/or representing disadvantaged Canadians"
The government-sponsored National Council of Welfare has been campaigning for a national strategy and published "Solving Poverty: Four cornerstones of a workable national strategy for Canada." One of the four cornerstones was the creation and implementation of a National Poverty Reduction Strategy.
The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities held cross-country hearings in 2009 on a study of the Federal Contribution to Reducing Poverty in Canada. A report is being produced from these hearings. Minutes of these hearings can be found here.
A resolution was passed with all party support in the House of Commons on November 24, 2009 calling for a national poverty reduction strategy. Check out the Sixth Report of the Human Resources and Social Development Committee that Parliament concurred with. You can find the debate in the House of Commons on this report here.
On December 8 2009, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Cities released, In From the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness. This report is full of important recommendations and is a powerful statement on the need to work together across sector to eradicate poverty in Canada. The report also highlights the crucial role the federal government must play in this process.
On June 17, NDP MP Tony Martin tabled private member’s Bill C-545, An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada. Not only does this bill speak to a tremendous need in this country, it also reflects significant civil society consultation and multi-party collaboration. This act would mean that the federal government would have a legal obligation to eliminate poverty in Canada by establishing and implementing a poverty reduction plan.
What can you do?
Make Poverty History, along with other organizations, individuals and elected officials are coming together to call on Canada to finally adopt a federal poverty reduction plan.