Thousands take to streets to call for a poverty-free Canada

Canada’s largest anti-poverty campaign joins the worldwide movement on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

For Immediate Release

Unceded Algonquin Territory [OTTAWA] (October 17, 2019) — Today, thousands of people representing over 100 groups across Canada, from St. John’s to Iqaluit to Nanaimo, are calling for an end to poverty in Canada on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. With the Federal Election taking place only four days later, Chew on This! calls on Canada’s next federal government to commit to a poverty-free Canada within the first 90 days of taking office.

Each month, over 1.1 million people in Canada visit the food bank and one in eight families struggle daily to put food on the table. According to the latest census data, over 16 per cent of the population lives in poverty, roughly 5.8 million people in Canada.

Today, volunteers in communities across Canada are taking to the streets to participate in the 7th annual Chew on This! campaign – calling attention to Canada’s disproportionate and persistent rates of poverty and food insecurity. Chew on This! is organized by the Dignity for All campaign, co-led by Canada Without Poverty (CWP) and Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ).

Chew On This! events are being held by over 100 groups in cities and towns across the country, including locally at Parliament Hill. Volunteers from coast-to-coast-to-coast will be handing out 25,000 campaign lunch bags containing a snack, a magnet, and a postcard to send to the Prime Minister demanding stronger national action on poverty, food insecurity, and homelessness.

Media Availability:

Where: Parliament building, Main entrance in front of the Peace Tower
Who: Members of Parliament, CPJ Executive Director Willard Metzger, and Policy Director and Human Rights Lawyer, Michele Biss
When: October 17th 2019, 12:00 pm

Thousands of participants in the campaign will be calling for federal leadership to end poverty. There is still much to improve in the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy that was released over a year ago. Renewed efforts must ensure anti-poverty measures are adequately funded in Budget 2020, and that the plan itself is comprehensive in scope and based in human rights.

“Earlier this year, we welcomed the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy as an important first step,” said Willard Metzger, Executive Director of CPJ. “But the work cannot end there. Millions of people across Canada are living in poverty and they need action now.”

“Canada is standing on a precipice, where, much like the climate crisis, we must act now. By the next federal election in 2023, we will have only 7 years to meet our goal of ‘ending poverty’ under the UN Sustainable Development Goals” said Michèle Biss, Policy Director and Human Rights Lawyer at Canada Without Poverty. “Hundreds of people are taking to the street today to spread the message: people in Canada care about poverty.”

Since it launched in 2009, the Dignity for All campaign has called for a national plan to address poverty. In 2015, the campaign released its model plan, Dignity for All – A National Anti-Poverty Plan for Canada, based on five years of consultation with 600 organizations and individuals across the country. The plan outlines six policy areas where the federal government can lead in to drastically reduce poverty: income security, housing and homelessness, food security, health, early childhood education and care, and jobs and employment.

The federal government’s CPRS, entitled Opportunity for All, makes reference to the Dignity for All plan, however members continue to call for more ambitious and comprehensive action from all parties this election season.

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Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada, headed by Canada Without Poverty and Citizens for Public Justice, is a multi-year, non-partisan campaign supported by over 11,000 individuals and 700 local and national organizations calling for a comprehensive federal plan to eliminate poverty.

ChewOnThis! is a national campaign to raise awareness of food insecurity and poverty in Canada. The campaign calls for the implementation of an effective and comprehensive national anti-poverty plan to address systemic issues related to poverty. Thousands of people in Canada are demanding the federal government build on the first federal poverty reduction plan to eradicate poverty and hunger for the nearly 1.1 million people in Canada who use food banks each month and for the millions of others struggling to get by. The Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy is a first step – but we need a plan that can end poverty in Canada.


Brad Wassink, Citizens for Public Justice, at 613-232-0275 x. 225 or ac.jpc@darb.

Michèle Biss, at 613-697-8743 or ac.psc-pwc@elehcim.

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