Media Release – for release at 10:00am Eastern, Thursday, October 2, 2008
Ottawa – Three Canadian social justice groups with members across Canada today demanded that poverty and social inequality issues be given greater attention by the political parties entering the home stretch of the 2008 federal election. These groups voiced their demands as a preface to a national debate on poverty and inequality. This televised, public event is being held on Monday, October 6th, 7pm to 9pm, Dominion Chalmers United Church, 355 Cooper Street, Ottawa (wheelchair accessible from Cooper Street entrance).
“At this moment, there are 700 food banks serving Canadians in need, and a steadily growing population of perhaps 300,000 homeless persons. It is clear that poverty is widespread, deep and pervasive in Canada,” said Marie White, Chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. “The ever-widening gap between lower income Canadians and wealthy Canadians exacerbates this problem.”
“Canada’s problems of poverty and inequality are persisting despite massive expansion of the Canadian economy over several decades and a high gross domestic product per capita,” said Joe Gunn, Executive Director of Citizens for Public Justice. “We need a Canadian economy rooted in compassion and care for all Canadians, not an economy that enables only some to take fullest advantage of the marketplace. Canadians who are poor are equally worried about the potential downturn in the economy. Our politicians must ensure that this trend does not become a new rationale for doing nothing.”
“Thus far in the election, we are encouraged by the parties who revealed proposals intended to tackle poverty and inequality,” said Rob Rainer, Executive Director of the National Anti-Poverty Organization. “We are now especially eager to hear what the governing Conservative Party proposes to do about these issues. As of today they have had little to say about Canada’s social development generally, and have been virtually silent on concerns about poverty and inequality, concerns which are shared by a majority of the electorate.”
According to an Angus Reid poll on August 29th, the issue of poverty is uppermost in the minds of Canadians. Worries over this issue follow health care, the economy, and the environment. Poverty is one of the “top four chief concerns of the Canadian people.”
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Citizens for Public Justice, and the National Anti-Poverty Organization are members of an inclusive Canadian coalition of 33 organizations whose efforts have led to Monday’s event. Other prominent coalition members include the Canadian Co-operative Association, the Canadian Labour Congress, and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. CBC radio broadcaster Adrian Harewood will moderate the debate. The coalition has invited the Conservative, Liberal, New Democratic, Bloc and Green parties to participate. As of today, all but the Conservative Party have committed to this timely debate.
For more information:
Laurie Beachell, Council of Canadians with Disabilities (204) 947-0303
Karri Munn-Venn, Citizens for Public Justice (613) 232-0275
Rob Rainer, National Anti-Poverty Organization (613) 789-0096