On December 6th, MPs voted down Bill C-245, the Poverty Reduction Act. This bill would have legislated a framework for a national poverty reduction strategy. The final vote was 238 to 52.
It is a disappointing result, given that the federal government has committed to action on poverty, mandating a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy. Now, people living in poverty in Canada must continue to wait for a comprehensive response.
“Canada needs a comprehensive national anti-poverty plan that is legislated and provides a framework for accountability, along with firm targets and timelines to reach its goals,” said Citizens for Public Justice socio-economic policy analyst, Darlene O’Leary.
“The Poverty Reduction Act would have established a rights-based framework, strengthening the effectiveness of the federal government’s Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy, and ensuring that it would be less vulnerable to shifts in government.”
The Liberals claim that support for the bill would be premature, as they are waiting on the results of the study taking place presently on poverty reduction strategies at the Human Resources, Skills and Social Development, and Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) committee. As well, Minister Duclos has indicated that consultations for the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy will begin early in the new year.
The decision to vote down the Poverty Reduction Act means that the federal government will be expected to move quickly and deliver a strong national strategy that provides at least what Bill C-245 would have offered.