FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa, ON, August 21, 2018 — Following years of advocacy from anti-poverty groups across Canada, the federal government has released the first-ever federal Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy. With nearly five million people in Canada living in poverty and one in eight families struggling to put food on the table, this marks an important step towards what advocates have requested for decades: strong, comprehensive federal leadership that will adequately address this crisis.
The launch of the strategy is a hallmark moment for Canada, and a success for grassroots and national groups, like the Dignity for All campaign. Still the CPRS falls short of creating an avenue for the full eradication of poverty.
“The creation of this poverty plan is a significant victory for our campaign, and for those who have been working hard for decades to see this happen,” said Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice.
The strategy centres programs and supplements rolled out by the current government over the past few years, including the Canada Workers Benefit, Canada Child Benefit, and National Housing Strategy, and the $22 billion invested in those programs since 2015. It calls for a Poverty Reduction Act, which will legislate the targets and timelines, as well as the development of an accountability mechanism through the National Advisory Council on Poverty, achieving some of the major asks from the Dignity for All campaign.
“We are pleased to see that the CPRS recognizes the impact of the Dignity for All community on the consultation process and development of this plan,” said Leilani Farha, Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty.
“While we were hoping to see additional funding attached to this plan, we applaud the mention of accountability, and that the plan will be secured in legislation. However, the Poverty Advisory Council cannot be considered an effective accountability mechanism unless they can adequately respond to systemic issues related to poverty. Critically, their role must be secured as independent, with adequate funding, and authority to respond with remedies for violations of human rights.”
The strategy includes targets based on 2015 numbers that aim to reduce poverty by 20 per cent by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2030, though it does not include new income supports to realize these goals.
“The plan in its current form must be expanded to address the immediate and long-term needs of the millions of people in Canada who are living in poverty,” said Ms. Farha.
“Thousands of people from coast-to-coast-to-coast and the United Nations have called for an anti-poverty strategy that explicitly recognizes human rights through their support of the Dignity for All campaign – it is time for the government to meet its critical obligations to the rights of all people by providing accessible mechanisms to poor people.”
Mr. Gunn stated, “This plan is an important starting point. We will be involved every step of the way to ensure this plan is responsive to our calls and that its implementation is effective. Our goal is to end poverty in Canada, and that work continues.”
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.
Deborah Mebude, Citizens for Public Justice, at 613-232-0275 x232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Neidhart, Canada Without Poverty, at 613-293-2446 or email@example.com.