Press Release: Government fails to offer constructive response on poverty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa, ON: September 27, 2010 - According to official statistics, at least 3.4 million Canadians live in poverty. As a result of the recent recession, and according to CPJ’s May 2010 research report, Bearing the Brunt, however, the real number is substantially higher.

Earlier this year, the Senate unanimously approved a groundbreaking report by the Senate sub-committee on Cities. In from the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness contains a series of 74 recommendations “designed to lift Canadians out of poverty.” The government’s official response was released this evening.

“We believe that the federal government has a key role to play in addressing the crises of poverty and homelessness in Canada,” said Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice, and co-chair of Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada. “The response to this report illustrates a disappointing unwillingness to constructively assume this responsibility.”

The Senate Report called on the federal government to coordinate a nationwide federal/provincial initiative on early childhood learning, increase both the National Child Benefit and Working Income Tax Benefit; substantially reform Employment Insurance; develop a national housing and homelessness strategy; and, explore the feasibility of a basic annual income.

“Sadly, the Government response falls short of recognizing freedom from poverty as a human right and does not commit to the prompt policy changes necessary to bring about universal childcare or a national housing plan,” echoes CPJ policy analyst Karri Munn-Venn. “Based on the response to the Senate Report,” she says, “the Government seems unwilling to commit to working with the provinces to develop a poverty elimination plan for Canadians.”

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) is a national organization of members inspired by faith to seek justice in Canadian public policy. www.cpj.ca. Dignity for All: The Campaign for a Poverty-Free Canada was co-founded by CPJ and Canada Without Poverty in May 2009. www.dignityforall.ca.

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For more information, contact:

Joe Gunn, Executive Director 
1-800-667-8046 / 613-232-0275, ext. 224

Karri Munn-Venn, Policy Analyst
1-800-667-8046 / 613-232-0275, ext. 222