On Thursday, June 17, NDP MP Tony Martin tabled private member’s Bill C-545, An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada. Not only does this bill speak to a tremendous need in this country, it also reflects significant civil society consultation and multi-party collaboration. Congratulations to Mr. Martin, and thanks to MPs Mike Savage (Liberal) and Yves Lessard (Bloc) for their support of this legislative initiative.
Built on a strong human rights framework, the bill emphasizes income security, housing and social inclusion as core priorities. “The purpose of this Act is to impose on the federal government the obligation to eliminate poverty and promote social inclusion by establishing and implementing a strategy for poverty elimination in consultation with the provincial, territorial, municipal and Aboriginal governments and with civil society organizations.”
The introduction of Bill C-545 marks a significant step towards fulfilling the second goal of the Dignity Campaign (a federal poverty elimination act). The campaign and all of its supporters now have the summer to begin rallying public awareness of and support for the Bill, prior to its reading in the fall legislative session.
The poverty elimination strategy outlined in the legislation includes:
•Core priorities of income security, housing and social inclusion;
•a strong human rights framework;
•Picking a poverty measurement, as having no official definition has impeded action;
•Gender-based analysis, different urban and rural responses and dealing with specific factors that put some at greater risk, like aboriginal status, child rearing and single parenthood, low wage, immigration or refugee status, low education, and prolonged illness and disability.
•Leadership by the entire government with health and income security ministers taking the lead;
•An independent Poverty Elimination Commissioner to monitor and hold the government accountable, and a stronger, renewed National Council of Welfare to be called the National Council on Poverty and Social Inclusion.
DfA support continues to grow. 350 groups and over 5500 individual Canadians have endorsed the campaign. Among these supporters are 57 MPs and 12 Senators, representing 17% of all Parliamentarians. Special thanks to Alderman Joe Ceci and the City of Calgary for leading the effort to secure the recent endorsement of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities!
On behalf of the DfA campaign, have a wonderful summer! Please take some time to spread the word about Bill C-545 (Poverty Elimination) and make sure your MP is ready to get behind Bill C-304 (Housing) in the fall.