The cost of living, affordability and tax breaks are top of mind for people living in Canada. Yet, amid the current federal election campaign, party leaders remain virtually silent on the issue of social assistance or ending poverty. Continue reading “Cuts to social assistance are detrimental to our social fabric”
One year after releasing Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy, Opportunity for All, the Government of Canada has introduced the Members of the newly formed National Advisory Council on Poverty.
For Immediate Release
Unceded Algonquin Territory [Ottawa] (August 22, 2019) — Dignity for All applauds the federal government’s institution of a National Advisory Council on Poverty, on the first anniversary of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy, Opportunity for All.
After years of advocating for a strong, comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, we were excited to see important first steps being taken to create, legislate, and begin funding both the National Housing Strategy (NHS) and the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) by Minister Jean Yves-Duclos and Employment and Social Development. Of particular importance are the introduction of human rights language and framing in the NHS, though this needs to be strengthened in the PRS.
DfA also welcomes the announcement that the updated MBM is anticipated to be released in 2020. As it stands, the current poverty line measured by the MBM has been heavily criticized for being outdated, because its calculations draw on data from 2008. As this measure relies on regional costings of a defined basket of essential goods and services, up-to-date data is essential in accurately assessing how many people in our country are able to meet their daily needs. As such, DfA awaits an updated MBM that aims to represent a modest, basic standard of living in Canada.
We look forward to working together with the National Advisory Council on Poverty to ensure the realities of poverty in Canada are accurately reflected in our public ambition and policies. We will continue to work alongside civil society and policymakers to realize a strong, comprehensive, and rights-based approach to ending poverty in Canada, not just reducing it.
Regardless of the results of the upcoming federal election, DfA will continue to advocate for more ambitious targets, more comprehensive strategies, and more adequate funding to put Canada on track to meet our international Human Rights obligations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) of eradicating poverty.
The Dignity for All campaign (DfA) is co-led by Canada Without Poverty and Citizens for Public Justice, and represents individuals and organizations across Canada committed to the eradication of poverty.
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Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada, headed by Canada Without Poverty and Citizens for Public Justice, is a multi-year, non-partisan campaign supported by over 11,000 individuals and 700 local and national organizations calling for a comprehensive federal plan to eliminate poverty.
ChewOnThis! is a national campaign to raise awareness of food insecurity, and call for the implementation of an effective and comprehensive national anti-poverty plan to address the systemic issues poverty in Canada. Thousands of Canadians are demanding the federal government build on the first federal poverty reduction plan to eradicate poverty and hunger for the nearly 900,000 people in Canada who use food banks each month and for the millions of others struggling to get by. The Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy is a first step – but we need a plan that can end poverty in Canada.
Twitter: @DignityForAllCA & #ChewOnThis
Deb Mebude, Citizens for Public Justice, at 613-232-0275 x225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alexandra Zannis, Canada Without Poverty, at 613-789-0096 or email@example.com.
The announcement this week that Nutrition North has failed to address the needs of rural and remote communities is disheartening – yet doesn’t surprise many within the anti-poverty community. Continue reading “Canada must step up to address failed Nutrition North”
My first official week at Canada Without Poverty (CWP) has been nothing shy of electric.
With the release of the Budget Implementation Act which included key legislation for the National Housing and Poverty Reduction strategies to the Ontario Budget release, the Alberta Election to Equal Pay Day – it has been an important week for us at CWP. Continue reading “Framing poverty: who really gets to grow in Ontario?”
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 100 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.
The Dignity for All campaign has drafted a letter to be sent to Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, the Member of Parliament responsible for Canada’s poverty reduction strategy, with recommendations to strengthen Bill C-87, An Act respecting the reduction of poverty. Along with partners, we are calling on the government to align Canada with our obligations under international human rights law to ensure we meet the first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG): to end poverty by 2030.
This Bill comes at a critical moment in Canada’s history. With the upcoming federal election later this year, we urge the government to pass legislation for the poverty reduction strategy before this session ends.
Along with Canada’s first anti-poverty strategy, this legislation provides a historic opportunity for leadership. With our global commitments to end poverty by 2030, and our aspiration to be a country that leads on human rights, the time is now to implement anti-poverty legislation that move us forward to a more equal Canada.
537 individuals and organizations have signed our open letter!
- Amend the legislation to affirm economic and social rights as ratified by Canada, including: the right to an adequate standard of living; right to food; right to housing; right to work and access to childcare; right to social security; right to health as articulated in international human rights laws, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), as fundamental human rights;
- Establish regulations to Bill C-87, which articulate that the goal to reduce poverty by 50% of 2015 MBM levels by 2030 is a minimum target. Regulations must reflect that the obligation under the Sustainable Development Goals is to end poverty in Canada.
- Establish measures to ensure Canada’s official poverty line genuinely reflects the experience of poverty in Canada, particularly those in marginalized groups who are more likely to experience poverty.
- Ensure that the National Advisory Council on Poverty can adequately implement accountability of government for those living in poverty for the progressive realization of the right to an adequate standard of living and social security rights, as guaranteed by articles 2(1), 9 and 11 of the ICESCR.
- In addition to this legislation, co-develop initiatives to ensure accountability and implementation of remedies for the distinctive barriers faced by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit persons living in poverty.
***The letter was updated from the original version on Feb 1, 2019 at 10:15 a.m.
Dignity, inclusion and empowerment are some of the buzzwords found within the August release of Canada’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy, Opportunity for All. The strategy announced by Minister Jean-Yves Duclos provides a solid base for the anti-poverty community to celebrate the feat, as well as regroup advocacy efforts around one common goal: a Canada without poverty.
Continue reading “Moving towards a poverty-free Canada”
Here’s what news outlets across Canada had to say about ChewOnThis! 2018:
- Radio Canada: Une carte postale destinée à Justin Trudeau pour lutter contre la pauvreté
- Red Deer Advocate: Chew On This! campaign draws attention to national poverty
- Blackburn News: Windsor activists demand end to poverty with ‘Chew on This!’ campaign
- The Guardian (PEI): Activists in Charlottetown launch anti-poverty campaign
- Stratford Beacon Herald: Perth District Health Unit and Local Community Food Centre push for action on national poverty strategy
- RDNewsNow: Creating Better Insight Into Poverty in Red Deer
- Catholic Register: One in six Canadians are poor, Citizens for Public Justice Report says
- Hill Times: When a heart-wrenching photo made it better for children
- Hill Times: Will the poor always be with us? (and would we notice?)
- The United Church of Canada: The Call for Justice is Not an Option
Originally published in The Hill Times.
By Joe Gunn
On Oct. 17, the world commemorated the UN’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty—but you could be forgiven for not noticing.
Canadian media were not paying attention to poverty concerns that day, but readers and viewers were being swamped with an avalanche of reporting about … cannabis. And not to blame journalists, because for some bizarre reason, the federal government decided to mark that internationally themed day with the legalization of marijuana.
Were it true that nobody in Canada is poor, we, therefore, might have no need to care. But according to 2016 data Statistics Canada, the latest available, some 5.8 million people in Canada live in poverty. That is 16.8 per cent of your neighbours, or one in six people.
During that same week in the nation’s capital, only steps from the Hill, the Ottawa Mission reported having to lay 20 mats on the chapel floor because the shelter’s beds were full.
Maybe Canada has been hiding from the reality of poverty. But there is, however, some good news that Canadians need to hear.
On Aug. 21, the federal government announced the country’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy. Such a strategy was recommended by the House Human Resources, Skills, and Development Committee committee as far back as 2010.
It was promised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter for Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. Perhaps unfortunately, Mr. Duclos announced the long-awaited strategy in Vancouver, on a summer day when the House was not in session. The response from opposition parties was muted.
But the 109-page Opportunity for All document is worthy of note. It sets poverty-reduction targets for this country at the same level as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which Canada and 192 countries have backed in 2015.
The commitment is to reduce poverty by 20 per cent by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2030. An official poverty line for Canada will be established for the first time, based on the Market Basket Measure, but a “dashboard of indicators” will be developed and available online to measure other aspects like food security, housing, and health. A National Advisory Council on Poverty will be established to provide regular reporting to Parliament and the public on progress with poverty reduction. And finally, all these measures will be presented to Parliament in legislation—hopefully in a Poverty Reduction Act that guarantees longevity for all these elements of the strategy.
However, when the strategy was released, it was accompanied by no new program announcements or enhancements, and not a penny in new spending. Critics were quick to point out that “business as usual” will leave us only with the status quo.
For Opportunity for All to become more than aspirational, an implementation plan is required. Next steps must include the presentation, and then passage, of the legislation, before the House rises in June and the federal election campaign starts in earnest. As well, the 2019 federal budget must make investments in the priority areas where progress toward poverty reduction goals can be first felt. Kicking the heavy lifting down the road to future years or future government whims could doom the strategy to meaninglessness.
On Oct. 17, close to 100 events took place in towns across the country, reaching into the far north. For the sixth year now, Chew On This! events have been organized by Dignity for All: the Campaign for a Poverty-free Canada. Organizers in food banks, community centres, workplaces, and schools passed out bags, fridge magnets and perhaps an apple—along with a mail-in card asking the prime minister to make the poverty-reduction strategy a reality by swiftly passing the legislation and funding key aspects of it in the next budget.
Civil society organizations, having worked for over a decade to achieve a federal poverty reduction plan, will not allow this promise to be delayed. Once a plan is legislated, they will be there to ensure that political promises do not simply go up in smoke.
Joe Gunn is the executive director of Citizens for Public Justice.
This past August was a historic month for many in Canada’s anti-poverty community.
Continue reading “From 13 to 100: Chew On This!”