Restoring Dignity: A Strong National Anti-Poverty Plan

Submission to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
October 2016
Read the Brief

Canada is one of the world’s wealthiest countries, yet 4.9 million people live in poverty. That is 14.4% of us, or 1 in 7 people. The impact of poverty is far-reaching, hitting communities across Canada hard. 

In 2016, the Standing Committee on Human Resources launched a study on a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy (CPRS). It focuses on four main areas: housing, education and training, government administered savings and entitlement programs, and neighbourhoods. 

CPJ believes that the federal government must develop a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy that is grounded in and responsive to the experiences of the most vulnerable in Canadian society. Since 2009, CPJ has worked in collaboration with social policy, anti-poverty, non-profit and faith-based organizations through Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada

Dignity for All has developed a model National Anti-Poverty Plan for Canada that outlines recommendations in six policy areas: income security, housing and homelessness, health, food security, employment, and early childhood education and care.  It also highlights the importance of a human rights framework guiding the plan, its development, implementation, and reporting. 

CPJ recommends that the CPRS reflect the consultation process, human rights framework, and policy recommendations of the Dignity for All model plan, which this brief outlines.

The Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy must: 

  1. Be comprehensive, effective, and responsive. 
  2. Include a National Housing Strategy that has clear goals, timelines, and monitoring provisions, and that is supported by legislation and funding. 
  3. Partner with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit governments and organizations to develop focussed Indigenous infrastructure development strategies that are responsive to the unique needs of Indigenous communities (on and off reserve and in Inuit and northern contexts)
  4. Include a National Jobs Creation and Training Strategy
  5. Invest an additional $500 million per year over the next five years ($2.5 billion total) for Indigenous education, skills training and economic development.
  6. Include a national early childhood education and care (ECEC) program that is universal, publicly funded, high-quality, and regulated. 
  7. Include provisions for improved access to Employment Insurance (EI), including setting a national eligibility threshold of 360 hours.
  8. Include improvements to the Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) programs, increasing the GIS by the amount required to lift seniors out of poverty and modifying the residency requirement for seniors’ programs. 
  9. Include a plan to reinstate a federal minimum wage at $15/hour.
  10. Include a universal, publicly funded National Pharmacare Program that provides prescription drug coverage at little to no cost to all, regardless of income, age, or region. 
  11. Include the development of a comprehensive National Right to Food Policy and improvements to the Nutrition North program.