All Parties Except Conservatives Support Make Poverty History Goals

April 28, 2011 - 1:09pm

Make Poverty History has lobbied all the political parties to include our goals in their platforms. With the exception of the Conservative Party, our campaigning efforts have succeeded as all of the other major parties’ platforms have endorsed key Make Poverty History goals.

Liberal Party platform commits to poverty reduction plan for Canada

The Liberal Party Platform supports many of the Make Poverty History goals. It says, "a Liberal government will work with partners at all levels to develop a Poverty Reduction Plan for Canada. It will set goals, indentify practical measures for achieving them and set out who can do what among all the partners."  And it commits to several measures that would be part of such a Plan, including increasing the federal investment in affordable housing by $550 million in the first two years, and establishing a new Early Childhood Learning and Care Fund that will begin with $500 million in the first year, rising to an annual commitment of $1 billion by the fourth year. There are also commitments on improving access to higher education for low income youth and increases to the seniors' Guaranteed Income Supplement so that no senior would have to live in poverty.  In total the Liberal have committed $5 billion over two years to different parts of their Poverty Reduction Plan.

It is a pretty good start, and they make clear that they are prepared to do more as the plan gets developed in consultation with provincial and territorial governments and other partners.  One of the things that I would like to see added is an increase in the combined Child Tax Benefit and National Child Benefit Supplement, to bring it up to a maximum of $5400. This has been one of the most effective tools in fighting child poverty. Some of the funds needed to do this could be found by ending the Child Tax Credit which is unfair as it provides nothing for low income families who don't pay taxes.

On the global poverty front, the Liberal Platform commits to unfreezing the aid budget and returning Africa to the top of Canada's aid priorities. The Liberal Platform also commits to adopting Canadian Corporate Social Responsibility standards, and setting up an independent ombudsman office to advise Canadian companies, consider complaints made against them, and investigate those complaints where it is deemed warranted.

The Liberal Platform does not, however, commit to a timetable to achieving the 0.7% of national income aid target which Make Poverty History has been advocating for.

NDP platform endorses 0.7% aid target and a poverty reduction plan

The NDP Platform endorses increasing aid to 0.7% to fight global poverty, and calls for national poverty reduction plan. It also pledges strong action on climate change.

The NDP Platform states very clearly that they will, “get Canada on track to fulfilling our longstanding commitment to increase our Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) budget to 0.7 per cent of GDP with an immediate increase of $500 million and further increases each year.”

On domestic poverty, the NDP Platform commits to several anti-poverty planks including implementation of the Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada, which was introduced before the election by NDP Member of Parliament Tony Martin. The specific anti-poverty measures the NDP Platform calls for include:

  • increasing the annual Guaranteed Income Supplement to a sufficient level in the first budget to lift every senior in Canada out of poverty immediately.
  • fund a Canada-wide child care and early learning program, enshrined in law, that would see the creation of 25,000 new child care spaces per year for the next four years;
  • enacting legislation and provide significant new funding to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians;
  • combining existing supports like the Child Tax Benefit to create a non-taxable Child Benefit and increase the support steadily by up to $700 per child over the next four years in order to help reduce child poverty.
  • tabling legislation that will set goals and targets for poverty reduction in consultation with the provincial, territorial, municipal and Aboriginal governments and with non-governmental organizations.
  • re-introduce the federal minimum wage law to protect low paid workers.

The NDP platform also commits to take action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and states that they will “live up to our international obligations to assist developing countries in mitigating and adapting to climate change.”

Green Party commits to Make Poverty History

The Green Party Platform commits to “Make Poverty History” and specifically calls for Canada to meet its commitments and push other nations to meet theirs in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Their “Vision Green” document provides more details including a commitment to:

  • Prioritize the restructuring of ODA delivery while making responsible and consistent increases that will achieve the target of 0.7% of GDP within a decade.
  • Revamp CIDA to focus more on developing community-based green economies, on poverty alleviation and programs to combat and adapt to climate change, especially strengthening its Partnership Branch for the delivery of ODA.
  • Fulfill our commitments for the provision of HIV/AIDS retroviral drugs to Africa.

The Green Party Platform does not address domestic poverty in much detail but it includes a budget that has increased investments in affordable housing, a national pharmacare plan, a municipal youth employment program, First Nations education, safe drinking water and improved housing program, and an early childhood education program. The Green budget would also eliminate taxes for those living in poverty with an income of less than $20,000 a year.

The Bloc Québécois endorses 0.7% aid target

The Bloc Québécois platform promises to implement a credible plan to bring Canada’s international development assistance up to the UN target of 0.7% of GDP.

The Bloc Québécois platform is also proposing substantial improvements to programs for the neediest of persons, such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement, employment insurance and support for affordable housing.

Conservative Party platform has little to say about poverty

About the only thing the Conservative Party Platform commits to do on domestic poverty is to increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors. But the increase they are offering is less than half of what other parties have pledged to do and would not ensure ending poverty among seniors.

Although the Conservative Platform does include a section on Support for Developing Countries and for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, it consists mainly of a list of things they have already done such as the Muskoka Maternal and Child Health Initiative and assistance for Haiti following the earthquake. The only promise of what they will do in the future is that they, “will continue to rally world leaders to follow through on our commitments to improve the health of women and children in developing countries.”

The platform also says the Conservative Party will, “focus our post-combat efforts in Afghanistan on investing in the education and health of children and youth; advancing security, the rule of law, and human rights; promoting regional diplomacy; and delivering humanitarian assistance.”