Press Release: CPJ praises vision of Parliamentary Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa, ON: November 18, 2010 - Citizens for Public Justice applauds the Parliamentary Committee on Human Resources and Skills Development (HUMA) for their resounding endorsement of the need for a federal poverty reduction plan.

Poverty is about more than money. It is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive approach that addresses housing, childcare and social exclusion – in addition to living wages and income supports. CPJ was very pleased to see an understanding of this complexity in “Federal Poverty Reduction Plan: Working in Partnership Towards Reducing Poverty in Canada,” the HUMA Committee report released this afternoon.

“Officially, at least 3.4 million Canadians live in poverty,” said Joe Gunn, Executive Director of Citizens for Public Justice and Co-Chair of Dignity for All: The Campaign for a Poverty-Free Canada. “However our research indicates that poverty could have increased by over 900,000 in 2009 as a result of the recession. It is clear that a coordinated plan is required and today we may be one step closer to achieving that plan.”

CPJ’s Policy Analyst and Dignity for All Campaign coordinator, Karri Munn-Venn, suggested that the HUMA report is noteworthy for its clarity on the need for a plan, and its focus on significant actions that can – and should – be taken immediately. “Addressing poverty is a matter of dignity and it is a matter of justice,” she said. “As Christians we are called to address the causes, as well as the symptoms, of poverty. The collaborative approach of parliamentarians that defined much of the work that went into ‘Federal Poverty Reduction Plan’ is encouraging, as is the emphasis on partnership. It is clear that everyone – all levels of government, the private sector, churches and society at large – must work together to eliminate poverty in Canada.”

It must not be forgotten, however, that the contents of the report are recommendations. Without implementation, they will remain empty words. While the report’s first recommendation calls for the government to “immediately” commit to a federal action plan, the government could wait 120 days to tell Canadians whether it will put these recommendations into action – or simply allow the report to gather dust.

“Reflecting back on the hollow government response to the groundbreaking Senate report, ‘In from the Margins,’ we would be shocked to see nothing new this time around,” commented Gunn.

“Still, a potential spring election opens up the possibility that under any new government, priorities could shift, and action on poverty be taken up more seriously,” added Munn-Venn. “That is why we are anxious to hear from all parties on how they plan to take up HUMA’s recommendations.”

Mr. Gunn added, “It is imperative that all political parties include a poverty elimination plan in their electoral platforms, so Canadians can evaluate whether they have taken the HUMA recommendations seriously.”

There is growing momentum in the fight against poverty in Canada. In recent years six Canadian provinces have developed poverty reduction strategies. Local communities and the United Nations alike have urged the federal government to fully engage in efforts aimed at the eventual elimination of poverty. And the Canadian Senate, in its unanimous adoption of the “In from the Margins” report demonstrated its support for federal action. November 24th marks the one-year anniversary of the House of Commons unanimous resolution to develop a federal plan to eliminate poverty for all. CPJ invites Canadians to evaluate their government not merely on what they say, but on what they do.

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Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) is a national organization of members inspired by faith to seek justice in Canadian public policy.

Dignity for All: The Campaign for a Poverty-Free Canada was co-founded by CPJ and Canada Without Poverty in May 2009. The campaign boasts the support of thousands of Canadians, hundreds of organizations and over 65 Members of Parliament who are calling for an end to poverty.

For more information, contact:

Joe Gunn, Executive Director
1-800-667-8046, ext. 224 or 613-867-0309 (mobile)

Karri Munn-Venn, Policy Analyst
1-800-667-8046 , ext. 222 or 613-850-2441 (mobile)